Tuesday marked the first death anniversary of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. As a tribute to the late leader, the ruling AIADMK led by CM Edappadi Palaniswami, his cabinet ministers and thousands of party members carried out a peace march.
Dressed in black shirts, the Tamil Nadu ministers walked from Wallajah Road to Jayalalithaa’s memorial at Marina Beach in Chennai.
But on the sombre occasion, a video of Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has triggered much laughter. The clip that has been posted on Twitter, shows OPS initially walking alongside EPS. He, however, leaves his CM behind by jogging to the front of the rally, perhaps inadvertently reflecting the sign of the times, where leaders have been jostling for space since Jayalalithaa’s death.
The clip also comes amidst speculation that all is not well in the merged AIADMK. Weeks ago, Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan ruffled feathers by posting on Facebook suggesting that despite the merger, a union of hearts was yet to take place. He had then said, “Three months since the merger and the fourth month is on. The months pass by but what about hearts?”
Thousands arriving at the memorial since early this morning to pay respects to the departed leader. But reporters on the ground say that for many, Jayalalithaa’s death anniversary was nothing more than a photo-opportunity at her final resting place.
Jayalalithaa’s anniversary also became another occasion for the two rival factions to compete, with ousted AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran also taking out a rally from Anna statue on Anna Salai to Jayalalithaa’s memorial. But unlike the ruling party, Dhinakaran, who is also a candidate for the RK Nagar bye-elections, chose to go by jeep with a small band of his supporters.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Chennai’s Apollo Hospital on September 22 with fever and dehydration. A team of doctors from Apollo Hospital together with British intensivist Dr Richard Beale were treating the then CM until her death. Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead on December 5.