Tamil Nadu was on edge Monday, waiting with bated breath for word on the health status of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who has been on life support since Sunday evening after a cardiac arrest. Emotions ran high across the state where security measures have been stepped up to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
The Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, where Jayalalithaa is being treated since September 22, dismissed reports in a section of the media Monday evening that she was no more, clarifying that she was alive but her condition remained critical.
“Despite our best efforts, our beloved CM remains in a grave situation. Our team of expert doctors continue to closely monitor and treat the Honourable Chief Minister. However, her condition remains critical. A large team of doctors from Apollo and AIIMS continue to provide all life saving measures,” the hospital said in a series of tweets.
Confusion prevailed after some Tamil television networks reported that the Chief Minister had passed away. As people wept and tried to enter the hospital premises, the AIADMK flag at the party headquarters in Royapettah was lowered to half-mast. But the flag was later raised to full-mast after the hospital clarified that she was still alive.
The AIADMK cabinet was meeting Monday evening to chart a future course of action.
Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was flying to Chennai to visit the hospital and inquire about Jayalalithaa’s health. Leaders across parties — from Rahul Gandhi to Nitish Kumar to Naveen Patnaik — wished her speedy recovery, saying they were praying for her well being.
On Sunday, after Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest, the hospital said she had been put on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and was being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists. Dr Richard Beale from London, it said, had also been consulted and he had concurred with the line of treatment.
Soon after the Apollo statement, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and inquired about the Chief Minister’s health.
President Pranab Mukherjee took to Twitter to convey his concern: “Distressed to hear about CM Jayalalithaa suffering a cardiac arrest, my prayers for her speedy recovery.”
In Tamil Nadu, DGP T K Rajendran, who was in Madurai to attend a meeting, and IG (Intelligence) K N Sathyamurthy were among the top officers who rushed to the hospital.
From the time she was admitted to the hospital on September 22, Jayalalithaa was being attended to by a team of 18 senior doctors including intensivists, respiratory physicians and cardiologists besides specialists flown from the AIIMS in New Delhi and London.