Former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was today remembered on her first death anniversary with party veterans K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam leading workers in paying tributes to their ‘Amma’ at her mausoleum here. Sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran also took out a procession with his supporters and paid floral tributes at Jayalalithaa’s mausoleum. Clad in black shirts, AIADMK coordinator Pannneerselvam and co-coordinator Palaniswami led a silent march of party functionaries, including ministers, MPs and MLAs from Anna Salai to late Jayalalithaa’s burial site at Marina beach, and paid floral tributes at the bedecked mausoleum. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Palaniswami, and his deputy Panneerselvam, placed a wreath at the memorial, where Jayalalithaa was laid to rest in December 2016. The two senior leaders stood with folded hands for sometime and then bowed down to pay their respects. Chants by supporters hailing Jayalalithaa filled the air even as some functionaries were seen getting emotional. AIADMK functionaries led by the two veterans also paid tributes at the memorial of party founder, the late chief minister M G Ramachandran. Later, the party workers led by Panneerselvam took an oath to mark the day. In the oath read out by Panneerselvam and repeated by others, including Palaniswami, the AIADMK workers vowed to ensure that the ‘golden rule’ of ‘Amma’ continued by their hard work. Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed by her supporters as ‘Amma’, meaning mother in Tamil. They recalled the “relentless hard work of Amma” in making AIADMK a successful people’s movement and each one of them vowed to be a true party worker walking in the footsteps of the late leader to ensure the party’s growth. They also recollected Jayalalithaa’s popular statement of “makkalukkaga naan, makkalukkagave naan” (I am for the people, I am because of people), and vowed to continue working in that direction. Panneerselvam started reading the oath by describing Jayalalithaa as AIADMK’s “permanent general secretary,” a refrain often used by the party leaders when she was in charge of its affairs. The unified AIADMK, formed following the merger of then factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam in August, has since done away with the powerful general secretary’s post, making Panneerselvam the coordinator and Palaniswami the co- coordinator.
The partymen today also vowed to “protect” AIADMK and strive to work towards its future successes. Later, they observed a two-minute silence in respect of the late leader. Jayalalithaa’s mausoleum saw a steady stream of visitors today, with scores of public paying tearful tributes to the late chief minister. Jaya Plus, a news channel part of the Jaya TV network managed by the family of deposed and jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, ran shows on Jayalalithaa’s various pro-people initiatives as chief minister of the state. Later, Dhinakaran also took out a procession from Anna Salai to Marina Beach in a jeep. The vehicle sported a bedecked photograph of late Jayalalithaa and he was accompanied by his supporters, including some of the disqualified MLAs. He later placed a wreath at the Jayalalithaa mausoleum. Meanwhile, actor Vishal Krishnan, who is contesting the December 21 bypoll to Radhakrishnan Nagar here, paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa at his office here, his publicist said. A popular leader, Jayalalithaa breathed her last on December 5, 2016.
She was admitted to a corporate hospital here on September 22 with complaints of fever and dehydration and underwent medical treatment for about 75 days before her demise. Her death later triggered a split in the party in February when Panneerselvam, the then chief minister, revolted against Sasikala, now serving a jail term in connection with an assets case in Bengaluru, alleging he was forced to make way for her to the state’s top post. Palaniswami was subsequently made chief minister but he later revolted against then party deputy chief Dhinakaran, with a section of ministers led by the former sidelining him. The factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam later merged on August 21.
A party general council in September sacked Sasikala as its chief. In a major boost, the unified AIADMK was recently awarded the party’s popular ‘Two Leaves’ symbol also. In Puducherry, AIADMK workers, including a good chunk of women, took out a procession from near the statue of Annadurai to the beach road there to pay homage at the portrait of Jayalalithaa on the occasion.