The Formidable Jayalalithaa – Unrivalled Leader Of The Tamils

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah –

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Jayalalithaa’s Incredible Tenacity – Part 2

The Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, the formidable J Jayalalithaa is on a roll.  In my article,  Jayalalithaa’s Incredible Tenacity part 1, I said Jayalalithaa “is sitting pretty”.  That was before the elections. [1] Now after her “historic and unparalleled win’ at the Lok Sabha elections, capturing 37 seats out of 39, Jayalalithaa, “Tamilnadu’s Lady”, the name she gave herself, has reached a highpoint in her illustrious political career with a high popularity rating to match – she has indeed reached the pinnacle. Yet some might disagree, when she has yet another goal to achieve, that of Prime Minister of India. Why does she need that although we won’t discount it.  Why does she need that, when she is the indisputable, inimitable, unrivalled and proven leader of all Tamils the world over, not just India.

In modern parlance Jayalalithaa “rocks” meaning she astounds.

It’s not just Jayalalithaa’s incredible tenacity that stands out more and more – add consistency, reliability, dependability and loyalty to the list. Unquestionably these are the attributes that make a great world leader and she has got it all!

Not only that, with her determination, resoluteness and indefatigable spirit, Jayalalithaa stands out and outshines her rivals.

There were times when for instance NDTV’s Truth vs Hype [2] and other similar programmes tried to portray her as buying her votes with handouts (a culture started by the DMK Jayalalithaa has said). Although many analysts actually doubted her victory this time on, with the emergence of the ‘Rainbow Coalition’ forged by the BJP, she came out triumphant.

Indeed Jayalalithaa proved all her critics wrong by her remarkable win!

The “lady is not for turning” I said in Part 1, quoting Margaret Thatcher’s famous phrase. [3]

jaya-mainNow as I write Part 2, she is “Tamilnadu’s Lady”: the one who stands taller than any other man you can name in India and why not the world! Yes, even the man who is now Prime Minister of India and she has statistics to prove it.

At the elections running on her achievements and that of her opposition in Tamilnadu, she didn’t wish to and wouldn’t attack Narendra Modi, the BJP prime ministerial candidate because of the cordiality that existed between them; this was how it was until the final days of her campaign, when according some analysts, Narendra Modi  visited  ’Superstar’ Rajinikanth’s home  and got his endorsement; the cordial relationship between Jayalalithaa and Modi apparently was not so cordial anymore.

Sherkhar Iyer for The Hindustan Times opines that Jayalalithaa’s attack came after Modi’s “much publicised visit to film star Rajinikanth’s house and the actor declaring his support for him” [4] :

Sherkhar Iyer writes as he quotes an AIADMK insider:

“Jayalalithaa is not likely to take a soft view of Modi’s interaction with Rajinikanth, who has not been on friendly terms with her since 1996 when he came out against Amma.”

Little did Modi realise he was making a grave mistake, for “Tamilnadu’s Lady” gave him a roasting that he won’t easily forget: [5]

Addressing her Tamilnadu constituency, rattling off statistical comparisons that seemed like a performance evaluation of herself and Modi, Jayalalithaa lashed out with facts and figures although, as they say, a lot gets lost in translation which I shall attempt to do:

From 2001 -2012  crimes against women had increased by 65% in Gujarat, she said, where as it had reduced by 29% in TN;  from 2005-2013 the number of incidents relating to religious and racial tensions was 479 in Gujarat as opposed to 237 in TN she said; in terms of welfare schemes the people most benefited were the people from the State of Tamilnadu compared to Gujarat where the opposite was true, she said; for instance food rations sold in the black market in Gujarat was high as 63% and in Tamilnadu it was a only just 4%; the overall growth in TN was an inclusive one that encompassed the poor and the destitute she concluded, posing a question: “Tell me my beloved people, the voters of Tamilnadu, who is the best administrator, is it Gujarat’s Modi or Tamilnadu’s Lady.” And wow her “beloved”  Tamilnadu responded with a resounding endorsement of “Tamilnadu’s Lady”, Jayalalithaa giving her a record breaking win at the Lok Sabha elections where she garnered more than 94% of the seats, whilst over all Modi won only 60% of the seats!

Despite all the hype, the so called “Modi Wave” in Tamilnadu turned out to be an “illusion”. It was undeniably the “Amma Wave” that came out like a tsunami with more than 70% voter turnout. Jayalalithaa even defied many election forecasts and surpassed Times Of India’s Exit Polls projection of 31 seats by winning 37 seats.[6]  [7]

Jayalalithaa’s main opponent DMK projected to win 7+ seats did not win a single seat and its one time coalition partner the Congress Party got 0 seats as well. The BJP (with its allies) projected to win 4+ seats won just one whilst the PMK a BJP ally also won a seat.

Shastri Ramachandran for The Citizen puts forward the argument that in a sense, Jayalalithaa is a bigger winner than Narendra Modi: [8]

“Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is a bigger winner than BJP’s Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections in one sense. With the AIADMK of ‘The Lady’ bagging 37 out of the 39 seats, her score is over 90 per cent. In contrast, Modi, even after taking the BJP comfortably ahead of the 272-mark, has scored only a little more 60 per cent…The AIADMK has emerged as the third largest party, just ahead of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.”

Ramachandran even speculates that with Jayalalithaa’s emergence as the “third largest party” and Congress party’s poor showing, she could be the leader of the opposition with Modi’s “prompting”. He further analyses that although Modi may not need her help at the Lok Sabha, he would “have use for Amma’s nine (soon to be ten) members in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is a minority.”

“…the BJP and Narendra Modi do not need the big block of AIADMK MPs in the Lok Sabha to get on with their business in Parliament and government. However, the BJP, which is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha, may have use for Amma’s nine (soon to become 10) members in the Upper House,” he writes.

Jayalalithaa has shown she has mettle, forthrightness and an enduring loyalty to her causes that she upstages her peers every time. In a display of sheer defiance and courage, she boycotts Narendra Modi’s swearing in ceremony and decides not to send a “representative” either.

In a letter to Prime Minister designate Modi, Jayalalithaa, writing very pointedly with an absolute sense of purpose and no ambiguity, had words for the “new Government to be formed at the Centre” and the “previous Central Government, showing her “anguish and dismay” at the invitation afforded to Mahinda Rajapaksa, despite “the entire country and indeed the entire world” being aware of “the various resolutions” her “State Legislative Assembly” had passed “with regard to  war crimes, ethnic pogrom and genocide perpetrated against the Sri Lankan Tamil people by the Sri Lankan Army under the Rajapaksa Government”.

Jayalalithaa considering the Modi’s move to be “ill advised”, wrote, it could have been better “avoided”.

Jayalalithaa pulls no punches in her criticism of both governments, virtually blaming the Congress led government of “trampling on the sentiments of Tamils” by its continued “inaction” during its tenure and the new BJP government of being neither “sympathetic to the cause of Tamils” nor “friendly to the State of Tamil Nadu” and for “deeply upsetting the people of Tamilnadu” and “wounding their sentiments all over again” by the move to invite Rajapaksa, which she said is, ” tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche”. [9]

Her letter truly illustrates that Jayalalithaa has assumed the role of guardian of the Eelam Tamil people and has a total grasp of the issues at stake:

“I have noted with dismay reports  in the media that the Sri Lankan President, Thiru Mahinda Rajapaksa has been invited to the Swearing-in Ceremony of the new Prime Minister of India and that the Sri Lankan President has accepted the invitation and stated that he will be present at the ceremony.  The sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and Tamils living in other parts of India and abroad are well known in the matter pertaining to Sri Lankan Tamils. There has been a General Election to the Lok Sabha and a new Government is to take charge in a few days, but this in no way alters the already existing strained relations  between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.  The entire country and indeed the entire world is aware of the various Resolutions passed in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly during the last three years, with regard to the war crimes, ethnic pogrom and genocide perpetrated against the Sri Lankan Tamil people by the Sri Lankan Army under the Rajapaksa Government in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka.  We had demanded an economic embargo on Sri Lanka and urged that India should take the lead in bringing a Resolution in the United Nations for those accused of war crimes and genocide to be brought before the International Court of Justice and that they should be made to face trial.  But, the previous Central Government chose to ignore the Resolutions passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly by not taking any action  and thereby trampled on the sentiments of the Tamils. We had hoped that the new Government to be formed at the Centre would be sympathetic to the cause of Tamils and friendly to the State of Tamil Nadu. However, even before the new Prime Minister and the new Government assume office and begin functioning, this unfortunate move of inviting the Sri Lankan President to attend the Swearing-in Ceremony of the new Prime Minister of India has deeply upset the people of Tamil Nadu and wounded their sentiments all over again. This is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche.

It is with a deep sense of anguish that we point this out to the new Government to be formed at the Centre. Particularly, with regard to the relationship of the new Central Government with the Government of Tamil Nadu, it would have been better if this ill advised move had been avoided. ” [10] 

What a snub by her, to a man Jayalalithaa was hoping would be “friendly” towards Tamilnadu and what a letdown by a man who promised to extend his full “cooperation” to her. [11]

A Member of SAARC or not, Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa had no place in Modi’s swearing-in. As a mark of solidarity with and respect for the concerns and wishes of the State of Tamilnadu, Modi should have shown more sensitivity towards a member of the Federation of Indian States. After all wasn’t Modi going to be the Prime Minister of all India and all of its people?

And what better advocate can Eelam Tamils have than Jayalalithaa?. No one else can be a stronger voice or be in a position to send a stronger message to the Indian Government at the Centre and thereby to the entire world than Jayalalithaa? She boycotted the Modi event at a cost to her surely, that could affect her, losing out on a possible role “at the Centre”, who knows if Ramachandran is right? Who knows if Modi is a person who holds grudges.

It was Jayalalithaa who led the call for economic sanctions against Sri Lanka, now suggested by others such as Paul Dewar, the Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs, similarly by John Baird, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister who has said he is with-holding funding to the Commonwealth as long as Sri Lanka is Chair and Hugo Swire, Minister of State in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office “expressing concerns” about Sri Lanka, as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow gets closer.

Who better can safeguard Eelam Tamils better than Jayalalithaa? No matter what, regardless of the Sri Lankan government being “happy” that according to it, with Modi’s majority, “Jayalalithaa has lost clout in New Delhi,” Jayalalithaa is still Sri Lanka’s biggest headache, when it come to India, the one woman in the way, hampering its relationship with India’s Central Government. [12]

Whilst Modi told Rajapaksa to “expedite the national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka by implementing the 13th Amendment and going beyond,” as per Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh’s opening remarks at her press briefing [13] Jayalalithaa on the other hand, knowing the true aspirations of Eelam Tamils has always called for a referendum on Eelam, with the Tamil Diaspora also being eligible to vote.

That’s the difference!

There is a need to articulate what “beyond” means. Would land and police powers be included. Will there be a federal structure as per the mandate that TNA obtained. There is need to review the 13th Amendment in the light of the 18th amendment and the Divineguma Bill that has become law to determine if 13 A carries with it actual devolution of power to the Tamils. Additionally for any free and fair discussion it is imperative that the 6th Amendment be relaxed.

Incidentally whilst Modi’s side had briefed the press precisely on what transpired, Sri Lanka’s press release after the meeting said nothing of that kind. I am beginning to wonder whether this is how Sri Lankans are lied to by their President, the Presidential Spokesman and the Media Unit. Shame! [14]

Narendra Modi and his External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj should be wary of Rajapaksa and should realise the lies and the broken promises made up to date. As Eelam Tamils hope for a new dawn with Narendra Modi at the helm, hopefully “Tamilnadu’s Lady ” Jayalalithaa would help him to write a new script for a political settlement in keeping with their true aspirations that would restore for them their lost freedom, land & dignity. [15]


[1] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jayalalithaas-incredible-tenacity/

[2] http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/truth-vs-hype/truth-vs-hype-the-contenders-of-2014-jayalalithaa-s-splendid-isolation/313360

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBPCFfxZij8

[4] http://www.bulletin247.com/english-news/show/have-modi-jayalalithaa-gone-too-far-by-attacking-each-other

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NGWWg9s_58

[6] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/Exit-polls-favour-AIADMK-indicate-Modi-wave-just-an-illusion-in-Tamil-Nadu/articleshow/35039125.cms

[7] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/live-election-results-2014-south-who-will-play-kingmaker/

[8] http://www.thecitizen.in/jaya-and-modi-congratulate-each-other-one-eye-on-leader-of-opposition-post-in-lok-sabha-2/

[9] http://aiadmk.com/press-statement-of-selvi-j-jayalalithaa/

[10] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/Jayalalithaa-to-skip-Modis-swearing-in-ceremony-Reports/videoshow/35594624.cms

[11] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/After-Jayas-greeting-Modi-lauds-her-win/articleshow/35320333.cms

[12] http://www.ndtv.com/elections/article/election-2014/sri-lanka-happy-jayalalithaa-lost-clout-in-new-delhi-527048

[13] http://www.mea.gov.in/media-briefings.htm dtl/23369/Foreign+Secretarys+opening+remarks+during+the+Media+Briefing+on+

Prime+Ministers+meetings+with+the+Leaders+of+the+SAARC+member+countries+and+Mauritius

[14] http://ow.ly/d/2cpy

[15] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/Jayalalithaa-calls-for-a-referendum-on-separate-Eelam/videoshow/19242335.cms