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Jayalalithaa dies at 68, the most pro-poor CM is no more

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Chennai: After remaining in the hospital for more than two months, Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa passed away last night following a massive cardiac arrest. The news has come as a massive shock for the entire Tamil Nadu and the whole southern state is mourning her death. She was 68.

Hundreds of thousands of people have poured into Chennai from across the state. Outpouring of emotions by her fans is making the whole world sit up and realize the importance of Amma in the state of Tamil Nadu.

The whole state has been completely shut down with all the shops, business establishments and offices closed down. People themselves have shut their establishments to mourn Jayalalithaa’s death.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had brought cheers and happiness in the lives of tens of millions of people by subsidizing almost everything for poor people. From rice to dosa, from television sets to medicines and medical facilities, she had subsidized almost everything for poor people of the state and despite apprehensions by economists and fellow politicians alike, she was able to make the whole promises a massive success.

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Meanwhile preparations for her burial are commented. Draped in the Tricolour, the body of the AIADMK leader has been kept at the Rajaji Hall, a British-era building in Chennai, where teary-eyed people paid homage to the six-time chief minister who passed away overnight at the age of 68. Hundreds of policemen formed chains to stop the heaving crowd from surging up the steps towards the raised platform on which Jayalalithaaa’s body, draped in her favourite green saree, was kept. Men and women wept, some shedding tears, while others broke into loud wails.

Reports suggest that a large number of mourners fainted from the heat and dehydration. Police said some of them had been keeping vigil outside the Apollo Hospital since Sunday and then walked to Rajaji Hall at daybreak. Major towns and cities of the state, including capital Chennai, came to a grinding halt with few shops opening and even fewer vehicles plying on the roads. Roads leading to Chennai were, however, clogged as people from across the state poured into the capital to catch a last glimpse of their leader.

The succession issue has been reportedly solved with reports of her close aide Sasikalaa all set to take over the post of general secretary of AIADMK. O Panneerselvam has been appointed chief minister of the state and he is expected to follow her diktats the same way he followed Jayalalithaa’s orders.

Meanwhile Tamil Nadu government declared a seven-day mourning period beginning Tuesday. Schools, colleges, offices and businesses were to be closed for the next three days, which have been designated a public holiday in the state. The Centre also announced a day’s national mourning.

Political and business leaders from across the country are gathering in Chennai to pay respect to the departed leader. Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Chennai, one of the first among several leaders from across the country expected to fly into the state capital through the day. President Pranab Mukherjee’s arrival was delayed after the plane he was travelling in developed a technical snag and had to return to Delhi. Other leaders who will pay homage to Jayalalithaa include Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. In New Delhi, lawmakers observed a minute’s silence before both houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day in respect for the AIADMK leader, a former member of Rajya Sabha.

Chief minister O Panneerselvam and his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs and senior state government officials were among the first to pay homage to Jayalalithaa, who passed away at the Apollo Hospitals at 11.30 last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.

She had become a legend for her followers in the state. Heart rending scenes were played out at the Rajaji Hall where her admirers and supporters wailed and beat their chests in despair. Many said they could not imagine life without Amma, a filmstar-turned-politician. Similar scenes were seen on the streets in a spontaneous outpouring of grief among millions whose life she touched in her three-decade-long public career.

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