Chennai: Late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was remembered on her second death anniversary Wednesday with top AIADMK leaders O Pannerselvam and K Palaniswami leading the party men in paying tributes to her.
The ruling party took a pledge to secure a ‘grand victory’ in the forthcoming bypolls to 20 Assembly segments and next year’s Lok Sabha elections and dedicate it to the late leader.
The Madras High Court had recently upheld the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs by Speaker P Dhanapal for revolting against Chief Minister K Palaniswami in August 2017, prompting bypolls there.
Tiruvarur and Thirupparankundram seats had fell vacant following the death of their incumbent MLAs, former DMK chief M Karunanidhi and A K Bose (AIADMK), respectively.
Earlier in the day, clad in black shirts, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, AIADMK coordinator and joint coordinator, respectively, led a silent march from Anna Salai to Marina beach, where the former AIADMK supremo was laid to rest.
Senior cabinet ministers, MPs and MLAs besides scores of party supporters most of whom were clad in black joined Panneerselvam and Palaniswami.
Palaniswami is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu while Pannerselvam is his Deputy. At the Jayalalithaa memorial, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami besides others paid floral tributes to their departed ‘Amma’ and were seen turning emotional.
Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed as ‘Amma’ by her supporters, meaning mother in Tamil.
Later, Panneerselvam administered the pledge to party cadres, which was repeated by Palaniswami and others.
The party heaped praises on her for her political acumen and wisdom. In the pledge, the ruling party also recalled the various electoral victories achieved by it and said all the credit for them went to Jayalalithaa.
“In all elections, the AIADMK has been reaping victories after victories and the credit goes to Amma only. We will replicate her hardwork and walk the path laid down by her in the forthcoming bypolls and Lok Sabha elections,” it said.
“The party will secure a grand victory in these and dedicate them to Amma,” the party leaders pledged.
AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran also took out a silent procession with his close aides and supporters.
In the 2011 Assembly polls, the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK had secured a massive win, trumping then incumbent DMK and reducing it to just 23 MLAs. The party had not lost a single election since then, including local body polls, even as it won 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
It also set a new record after three decades of an incumbent retaining power, when it won the 2016 polls.
However, the party lost the 2017 RK Nagar bypolls at the hands of rival party leader TTV Dhinakaran. Election to the city seat was necessitated due to Jayalalithaa’s death the previous year.
AIADMK Wednesday also credited its late leader with making the party the ‘third largest’ in the Lok Sabha (37 MPs), after the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress. It hailed her various pro-people measures, including provision of free laptops to students.
The party vowed to stick to Jayalalithaa’s ideology and be a ‘protector’ of Tamil people, and help in uphold her fame.
The leaders and party workers took a pledge to remain united, disciplined and dignified to keep the party intact and take it forward.
Later, they observed a two-minute silence in respect of the late leader. Jayalalithaa breathed her last on December 5, 2016. She was admitted to a corporate hospital here on September 22, 2016 with complaints of fever and dehydration and underwent medical treatment for about 75 days before her demise.
Her death had triggered a split in the AIADMK in February 2017 when then chief minister Panneerselvam revolted against Jayalalithaa’s close aide V K Sasikala, now serving a jail term in connection with an assets case in Bengaluru, alleging that 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.
While the respective factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam later merged on August 21, a party general council in September last year sacked Sasikala as its chief.