My News, Whtsapp, Facebook is flooded with messages and even though I live more than 1000 kms away, I am concerned. I am from Tamil Nadu and our Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha aka Amma had a Cardiac Arrest and unfortunately passed away last night. She was 68.
The one vivid memory I have of her is from somewhere between 2006-2007. It was the only time, I saw her. I was in college in Chennai and my college Stella Maris is located in the same locality as her residence and she zoomed alongside our College almost every other day to the Collectorate. The traffic would stop and there would security along the entire stretch of the road and if you were late to college, you had to wait till the entire convoy passed through.
It was annoying until one day I was at the bank in our college, it was an All Women branch and was recently inaugurated by Ms. Jayalalitha herself. As her convoy was going to pass through, all the women in the branch gathered to get a peek and I joined as well. And for some reason, she paused and waved at the bank that very day. The mood was jubilant as everyone in that room felt important, me included.
I am not a very big fan of her party and to be honest not a big fan of her as well. But apart from the politics, the cases and the baggage that comes with it, I respect her as a person and a woman.
She was a strong, independent and fearless leader. During her reign (that was it was), she worked against all odds and was successful. Women’s empowerment and care of the girl child were few of her key focus areas.
She did have her share of controversies. In my opinion, she was someone for whom the end justified the means (Something I don’t agree). Although am not sure if she mentored and developed second line leadership, she definitely set an example and set the bar high for women. She was loved, feared and respected by many. It is sometimes difficult to see politicians beyond the lens of politics, to see them as people. But everybody has both sides to them and only when we have the ability to look beyond that and learn something from them, we grow.
The state and the country have lost a great woman and a leader.