Nine months after former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s demise, speculation continues over what really happened during her 73-day hospitalisation. Although the Tamil Nadu government has ordered a judicial probe headed by Justice Arumugasamy to inquire into her death, state ministers have recently fuelled speculation with their differing voices. While Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan confessed to lying about Jayalalithaa’s health and said the truth was that none of the ministers met her in Apollo Hospital, Cooperation Minister Sellur Raja denied his colleague’s statement, saying he and others had met the leader.
An RTI reply to Bengaluru-based Narasimha Murthy from state Health Secretary Radhakrishnan has now revealed that Jayalalithaa “interacted with family and government officials on some important issues including the Cauvery issue.”
And while Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan claimed that statements that Jayalalithaa had eaten idlis during her hospitalisation were a lie, the RTI reply dated 16.06.2017 goes on to state, “The late Honourable Chief Minister’s clinical course deteriorated later and subsequently recovered substantially to be able to take oral food.”
The Health Secretary, in his reply to the RTI query, also reveals that no expenditure had been sanctioned by the Tamil Nadu government for the medical treatment of the former CM.
In the press meet convened by the state government in February to address rumours and allegations surrounding her death, Dr Babu Abraham of Apollo Hospitals had stated that the total cost of the medical expenses during Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation was between Rs 5 to Rs 5.2 crore and the bill had been handed over to the “family” – implying that the expenditure would be covered by Sasikala and her family members.
Narasimha Murthy had filed the RTI application on October 1, 2016 but failed to get a response. In his second attempt, his application was rejected on the grounds that it was personal information. It was only when he moved the Tamil Nadu Information Commission that he received a reply after a gap of seven months.
Jayalalithaa was breathless, unstable and not responsive to calls when a medical team from Apollo Hospitals attended to her on September 22, 2016. However, the first medical bulletin issued by the hospital suggested that the then CM had been admitted with fever and dehydration. Through her 73-day hospitalisation, medical bulletins remained sparse, revealing little about Jayalalithaa’s health status.
Despite rumour mongering, the hospital and the state government refused to furnish details about the Chief Minister’s condition.
Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 following a massive cardiac arrest.