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Jayalalithaa Passes Away, Panneerselvam New Tamil Nadu CM

The popular politician died on Monday night at a private hospital in Chennai after battling for life for 75 days

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Union Ministers, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and various other top leaders condoled Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's demise and paid glowing tributes to her.

Jayalalithaa passed away on Monday night at a private hospital in Chennai after battling for life for 75 days.

O. Panneerselvam was chosen by party MLAs to succeed J Jayalalithaa as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

"Deeply saddened at the passing away of Jayalalithaa; her demise has left a huge void in Indian politics," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted soon after the news of her death broke.

"I will always cherish the innumerable occasions when I had the opportunity to interact with Jayalalithaa ji. May her soul rest in peace," he said.

Expressing grief at the passing away of the stalwart of Tamil Nadu politics, President Pranab Mukherjee said, "Heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of Ms. Jayaram Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu."

"One of India's most charismatic and popular leaders, Ms. Jayalalithaa was a visionary and able administrator. Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people," the President said.

"In her passing away, the nation has lost an icon who was loved and admired by millions. Her contribution to the progress and development of Tamil Nadu will be long remembered," he said.

Vice President Hamid Ansari also condoled her death, saying Jayalalithaa's demise is an "irreparable loss to the people of India".

"An eminent public figure, a charismatic personality, she had immense influence over the political developments in Tamil Nadu as well as the national level.

"As Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, her contributions towards the economic development of the state and social welfare of the poorer segments will be long remembered and cherished. Her death is an irreparable loss to the people of India," Ansari said.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, while condoling Jayalalithaa's death, said, "I am deeply grieved to learn the passing of Selvi J Jayalalithaa.

"Selvi Jayalalithaa lived her entire life with the same indomitable courage with which she battled her illness. As the leader of AIADMK and four-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, she had a unique and deep empathy with the needs and hopes of the people, and put in place policies that immeasurably improved their lives.

"Whether it was her welfare schemes for the rural and urban poor, her swift relief measures in the aftermath of tsunami, or her vision of Tamil Nadu's industrial development, her leadership qualities and administratively abilities were truly outstanding," Sonia said.

Sonia hailed her as a "towering figure in our national and political life, who won admiration across the political sepctrum for the intrepid spirit with which she faced the ups and downs of her life in politics."

In his tweet, condoling Jayalalithaa's demise, Rahul Gandhi said, "We lost a great leader today. Women, farmers, fishermen and the marginalised dreamt through her eyes. We will miss Jayalalithaa ji, Amma to millions."

Home Minister Rajnath Singh also expressed sadness at the passing away of Jayalalithaa, saying, "She was a powerful voice for the weaker sections of the society."

"She always worked for the benefit of the poor and needy. She has left an indelible mark in Tamil Nadu politics with her enduring legacy. Selvi Jayalalithaa was one of the most iconic political figures of India who had an enormous impact on the people of Tamil Nadu," Singh said.

"I pay my heartfelt tributes to the departed soul. I also appeal to the people of Tamil Nadu to remain calm in this hour of grief," he said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also condoled the passing away of Jayalilthaa.

"A popular, bold, efficient, people-friendly charismatic leader Amma, always at the heart of people. Big loss, I am shocked, saddened," Banerjee said in a tweet.

"I humbly urge the people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK to face this big loss with courage and greatness. May she rest in peace," the Trinamool Congress supremo said.

Expressing grief, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said, "Deeply saddened to learn of the demise of Tamil Nadu CM, Selvi Jayalalithaa. Iron Lady in politics so far, has left a vacuum."

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy also expressed grief at her death.

"Jayalalithaa has done a lot of good work for the development of Tamil Nadu and for the welfare of the people. I mourn her death personally and also on behalf of the people of the union territory," he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, said, "Very sad to hear the demise of Amma. A very very popular leader. Aam aadmi's leader. May her soul rest in peace."

Condoling her death, BJP President Amit Shah said, "Saddened by the demise of Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa ji. I extend my deepest condolences to her party and followers in this hour of grief."

Jayalalithaa's Life

Jayalalithaa, tinsel town heroine who practised politics on her own terms to remain one of the main poles of Tamil Nadu politics for three decades, was a feisty leader with a lot of grit and determination staging remarkable comebacks despite setbacks on account of corruption cases.

A teen starlet, who acted with the who's who of Tamil cinema in the sixties and seventies, Jayalalitha went on to become a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, effortlessly inheriting the mantle of her mentor and superstar MGR.

Practitioner of adulatory politics, she has often been criticised for the public display of unswerving loyalty of her senior leaders and cadre, but nothing deterred her from what she sought to achieve in her own way.

Born in a Brahmin family in Mysore in Karnataka, Jayalalitha quite often had the better of her arch-rival M Karunanidhi, a stalwart and one of the earliest products of the Dravidian movement that was founded on an anti-Brahmin platform.

After her formal initiation into the politics in 1982 when she was inducted into the AIADMK, she displayed enormous political skills in shouldering the task of running the party after the death of M G Ramachandran in 1987.

68-year-old Jayalalithaa had to quit twice over corruption cases, but managed to stage dramatic comebacks on both occasions.

While the journey of actor Jayalalithaa started in 1965 in 'Vennira Aadai,' (The White Dress), she assumed her political avatar in 1982 after MGR made her the Propaganda Secretary the next year.

The charismatic actor-politician was made a Rajya Sabha member in 1984 by Ramachandran, with whom she had paired opposite in 28 films, and led the party's charge in the 1984 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls when he could could not go on a campaign trail following illness.

But her moment of reckoning came a few years later when Ramachandran died in 1987, with AIADMK at crossroads.

The leader was humiliated as MGR's body was lying in state in the heritage Rajaji Hall when a DMK leader tried to push her from the rostrum.

She faced intense and protracted struggle to eventually head the AIADMK overcoming the animosity of rival camps led by the leaders like senior minister in the MGR cabinet R M Veerappan.

AIADMK split into two factions then, famously called AIADMK (J) and AIADMK (Ja) after Jayalalithaa and Janaki, wife of Ramachandran.

Jayalalithaa successfully contested the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in 1989 from Bodinayakkanur and became the first woman Leader of Opposition in the House.

This period saw some challenges in her political and personal life, with Jayalalithaa alleging she was harassed and attacked by ruling DMK in the House even as she met with a deadly accident.

Between September 29, 2014, and May 22, 2015, she was out of office again after she was disqualified as a legislator and consequently lost chief ministership following her conviction in a graft case by a trial court in Bengaluru which was later set aside by Karnataka High Court.

Twice she went to jail, once after the DMK government registered a corruption case in 1996 and the second time after her conviction in 2014.

But Jayalalitha took legal recourse to stage terrific comebacks on both the occasions.

Altogether, she was sworn in as CM five times-1991-96, May-Sept 2001, 2002-06, 2011-14, 2015-16.

Hailed as 'Puratchi Thalaivi' (Revolutionary Leader), Jayalalithaa proved wrong all calculations of DMK retaining power in 2011 when she led her party to a fantastic victory by forming a rainbow coalition comprising DMDK and Left parties.

She retained power in 2016, scripting history after three decades to ensure that a party won a successive term.

Jayalalithaa is credited with introducing innovative schemes and projects, including 69 per cent reservation in education and employment, freebies and a host of brand Amma initiatives like water, cement and subsidised canteens.

Jayalalithaa's only trusted aide for long was Sasikala Natarajan who stayed with her at her Poes Garden. Sasikala was briefly expelled from the party for a couple of times but the two reconciled quickly on those occasions.

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