Actress-turned-politician Jayaraman Jayalalithaa, commonly referred to as Amma by her AIADMK party members and supporters, has been hospitalised for almost a month now. The 68-year-old Tamil Nadu chief minister was admitted to the hospital on September 22 for fever and dehydration. Her hospitalisation has created a sort of power vacuum in the southern Indian state – though the chief ministerial powers have been deputed to her trusted aide O Panneerselvam, yet the opposition parties have been in speculation mode over her health condition. The fact that the Apollo Hospital where she is admitted has not issued a medical bulletin for the eighth consecutive day has only added fuel to the fire.
All the speculation around Jayalalithaa’s health is also due to the fact that she is an important political leader not just in the South but also in India. Jayalalithaa has taken oath as chief minister of Tamil Nadu six times – she became the first chief minister of the state to beat incumbency and get reelected in the last Assembly Elections earlier this year. Also, she is only the second female chief minister of Tamil Nadu after Janaki Ramachandran. Coalition governments at the Centre have depended on her support to stay in power.
It remains to be seen when the Tamil Nadu chief minister will be back from hospital to take charge of the state, but one thing is for sure – her cult and aura as a popular southern political figure would remain forever.