No one had an exact idea of Jayalalithaa’s health till the time she wasn’t admitted to Chennai’s Apollo hospital in last week of September. Even after her admission to the hospital, very little or no details were known about her health. It was reported that no one was allowed to go near the chamber she was kept at. Her last public appearance was on September 20th, when she participated in a ceremony for the launch of a new line at the Chennai airport metro station via video conference. The Indian Express, quoting a source, reported that Amma’s was already unwell at that time, that’s why despite being in Chennai she couldn’t be a part of the ceremony, also attended by Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishnan.
An IE report says that Amma’s health was badly affected by her imprisonment in September 2014 in a disproportionate assets case in which she was acquitted less than eight months later. Her health started declining soon after release from jail in Karnataka. An IAS officer told The Indian Express that Amma kept herself away from key responsibilities after being sworn in as Chief Minister. It was her trusted aides, including former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan, who were taking control.
Even her opponents took note of the change in her behavior and started pointing to her reclusive lifestyle and reduced working hours. Recalling an incident, a senior police officer, who served in her security team, said that she once returned to home midway during general elections campaign in 2014. “She asked the driver to turn the car around. She was feeling dizzy and wanted to go home. She was in pain. It took her another four hours that day to leave home again for office,” the officer was quoted as saying by IE.
Another officer told IE that gap between her and her security personnel were reduced to 1 feet from 2 feets following the declined in her health after jail release. “Gap was reduced to one feet so that we could lend a helping hand in case of an emergency,” IE quotes the officer as saying. The officer adds that she found it difficult to stand for a long period of time in the last two years. “She used elevators to reach the stage during public rallies, she chose to sit and deliver speeches,” the officer said.
A former state minister, giving a more detailed account of Amma’s health, said that she was changed after prison. The minister told IE that Amma refused to share her medical prescriptions until some senior leaders and bureaucrats managed to persuade her. He added that the partymen shipped a especially-made chair to the prison, and leaders slept outside the prison to convince her that she was not alone. However, neither the bail nor the acquittal were able reinstate thing for Amma.