Hours after BSP chief Mayawati became emotional in Parliament over BJP leader Dayashankar Singh calling her worse than a prostitute, she received support from unexpected quarters, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Unexpected because the TN CM rarely gives press statements on issues that have little to do with Tamil Nadu. Besides her government-related announcements, statements taking on her rivals and her frequent letters to the PM, Jayalalithaa rarely speaks up on the political churning in the country.
“Mayawati is respected as the peerless leader of the oppressed community and no one can accept criticising a leader in a derogatory manner for having difference of opinion. My heart melts for Mayawati who has been assaulted by whipping words. Everyone should be firm that attacks on women politicians should be brought to an end. I too have had such experiences,” Jayalalithaa said in her statement.
Read statement here.
A source in the CM’s office said that she was watching a national news channel when she saw the debate in Parliament. “She was watching TV. After seeing the various talking heads on TV and Mayawati’s statement, she was quite upset. She told the staff that wanted to issue a statement. She dictated what she wanted to say,” the source said.
It is not too often that a Chief Minister dictates or writes a statement on their own. Most are drafted by office staff.
Jayalalithaa has not spoken much about certain episodes in her life that reeked of misogyny, except in some rare interviews to Tamil media. In an interview to Simi Garewal in 1999 she opened up about the episode in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1989.
“Nothing was worth the humiliation I suffered when I was attacked on the floor of TN assembly in March 25, 1989 in the presence of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, both his wives watching from the VIP boxes. His MLAs and ministers physically assaulted me. They grabbed anything they could land their hands upon, chairs, mikes even a heavy brass bell. If they had succeeded in banging it on my head, I would not be alive today. One of them pulled at my saree, they pulled at my hair. They threw chappals and heavy books at me. That day I left the assembly in tears, but I made a vow that day that I will not enter this assembly when Karunanidhi was CM. I vowed to enter only when I became Chief Minister,” she had said.
“I don’t take nonsense from anyone now, that old Jayalalithaa is gone. The Jayalalithaa who used to be tongue tied when someone insulted her or someone was rude to her, who didn’t know how to retort, who used to keep quiet, withdrawn to herself, cringe inwardly, who used to wait to go home, shut herself and cry in a dark room,” she said.