Jaya ho! Harvard student's Facebook post praising Jayalalithaa goes viral

Updated: 08 December, 2016 12:01 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

A Facebook post by a Harvard Business School student, Charanya Kannan, detailing the life and times of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has gone viral on social media

Pic courtesy: Charanya Kannan/Facebook

A Facebook post by a Harvard Business School student, Charanya Kannan, detailing the life and times of late J. Jayalalithaa has gone viral on social media.

Posting a black and white picture of the former Tamil Nadu chief minister, Charanya wrote, “She was only 16 years old when she starred opposite M.G.R in Ayirathil Oruvan. The entire cast & crew would stand up every time the veteran actor walked in, but the Church Park educated, English speaking Jayalalitha sat there with her legs crossed, reading her book. It was this audacity that went on to define the rest of her political career.”

Also Read: Why Jayalalithaa was buried and not cremated

She went on to describe the departed leader as a charming, multi-faceted actor who was trained in various dance forms, and also someone who was well read and witty, and intelligent. “It was not merely her affair with MGR that drew her to politics, it was her prolific ability to speak in English & Hindi with an intellect that could match an economist,” Charanya.

J. Jayalalithaa. File pic

Detailing the events surrounding MGR’s funeral, she posted, “When MGR died, she sat conspicuously at his head for an entire two days, relegating his wife Janaki to a sidelined spot. Janaki’s aids tried to push her away, in fact pinched her, stepped on her feet, but she refused to budge. When she got on to the carriage for the final procession, she was visibly pushed off it in front of all television cameras. This effrontery was what would help her survive all those years of politics that would follow. The entire party split into two after MGR’s death, but four years later united under her leadership to form one formidable opposition.

“She won against all odds. She was a white skinned Brahmin in a party that thrived due to its Dravidian anti-class rhetoric. She was a glamorous actor who cannot, by definition, be taken seriously. Above all, she was a woman trying to ascend to power in 1980s in Tamilnadu. An unmarried, childless woman. To put it in context, she was not only walking a path of thorns, she did it in an oxygen less chamber while her arms and legs were tied. It’s a feat that she survived at all, not to mention that she actually thrived,” Charanya went on to say in further praise of Jayalalithaa.

Read Story: Photos: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's final journey

Jayalalithaa in 'Izzat' and 'Man Mauji'. Pic/YouTube

Charanya also recalled how Jayalalithaa was treated for opposing Karunanidhi. “In 1989, when she opposed Karunanidhi’s presentation of the budget, she was almost disrobed in the assembly. This was in addition to being the recipient of lewd comments and hair pulling. This is probably the highest documented insult that a woman has ever faced in a state Assembly. Yet she persisted. She came out of that incident more guarded than ever before. She wrapped herself in layers of clothing and stopped wearing any jewelry at all. She succeeded at ‘desexualizing’ herself and branded herself as ‘amma’ (mother), the only known way to gain respect in that highly testosterone filled environment.”

Charanya described the late leader as the person who silenced opposition and who created sycophants who fall at her feet and worship her. “This was the only possible way she could command, consolidate and hold on to the otherwise elusive power. If she was any more cordial than this, she might have as well been an airhostess,” she added.

Also Read: Tribute: How Jayalalithaa entered politics and won over Tamil Nadu

According to Charanya, Jayalalithaa played popular politics. “When the DMK promised laptops, she provided table fans, mixers and grinders instead all branded with her cherubic photograph on it. She accumulated disproportionate assets in 1996, and has faced her share of atonement. However, no one else, not even men, could have been a formidable opposition to the DMK that has systematized corruption and nepotism in ways that she couldn’t. Forget her followers who baselessly immolate themselves or cut off their fingers in a spree of blind devotion towards her. I have spoken to several civil servants of the state who claim they function with lesser interference under her leadership than under the other party.

Read Story: Jayalalithaa buried with full state honours

”And with four and a half years of her term left, there is no single leader that can fill her void. It will be several years, even decades, before another woman can even remotely achieve what she did in a state like Tamilnadu. Now her statues will come up all over the state, and for once I’m glad. In a few generations, all that will matter is that there is a woman’s statue as well, and that statue is not a mere kannagi who was venerated because she was a perfect wife, but of a woman who was a true and powerful leader of her own merit and her own making,” the post concluded.

First Published: 08 December, 2016 08:20 IST

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