Over a year after former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed away in December 2016, the ground has been broken for a permanent memorial for the late Dravidian leader.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam laid the foundation during a ceremony at Marina Beach.
The late leader currently lies buried next to her mentor and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MG Ramachandran along the stretch of the Marina beach, and the temporary memorial will be converted to a permanent structure. The under-construction memorial will be the permanent abode of Jayalalithaa. The new design, whose estimated cost stands Rs. 50.8 crore is a titled ‘Phoenix’. Surrounded by manicured grass and artificial ponds, the main edifice is wing-shaped with two lions at the entrance to the structure.
The memorial is also set to house a knowledge park and a museum. According to one report, the proposed plan submitted by the Public Works Department was cleared by the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority in March this year.
Even as photos of garlanded EPS and OPS did the rounds on social media, the DMK raised objection to the Hindu religious ceremony by the Tamil Nadu government at the memorial. The party said that the ceremony violated the secular culture of the state and that it was yet another attempt to prove loyalty to the BJP. "Conducting a religious ceremony of this nature in a government function is not acceptable. It is against the secular fabric of the country. As a party, they are allowed to do what they want but this is state property and there is no place for religious symbols. State and religion must be kept separate," said DMK spokesperson A Saravanan.
The current memorial has been the epicentre of several political developments in Tamil Nadu. The late Chief Minister’s final resting place has witnessed former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s dharma yutham, his infamous rebellion against Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala and her family. The memorial was also where then AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala took a three-time vow before being jailed for her involvement in the Disproportionate Assets case. It also served as the venue for the patch-up of the two warring factions of the AIADMK.