Tamil Nadu Prepares To Bid Adieu To Its ‘Iron Butterfly’

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  • Cricketer Krishnamachari Srikkanth at Rajaji Hall (Chennai) to pay last tributes to Amma. jaya7
  • Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Andhra Pradesh CM arrives to pay their respects to Amma.
  • Former PM Manmohan Singh reaches Rajaji Hall in Chennai to pay his last respects to Jayalalitha.

Chennai: The entire state of Tamil Nadu is mourning over the sad demise of its beloved leader, its Iron Butterfly, ‘Amma’ Jayalalitha on Tuesday.

The mortal remains of the honourable chief minister has been kept at a public auditorium
With her body draped in the national flag, in an effort to display for lakhs of visitors before her funeral, scheduled for 4.30 this evening.

Cries of “Amma” rent the air as a sea of humanity thronged the Rajaji Hall grounds today to pay their last respects to AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, whose body lay in state in Chennai where normal life virtually came to a grinding halt.

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As tributes poured in from far and wide after the actress-turned-politicians’s death last night, the body of Jayalalithaa, which was draped in her favourite green colour saree, was taken from her Poes Garden residence early this morning to Rajaji Hall where tens of thousands of people queued up to have a last glimpse of their ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’ (Revolutionary Leader Amma).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi jaya5was among scores of political leaders who were headed to Chennai to pay tributes to the 68-year-old AIADMK chief.

As the casket carrying the body of six-time chief minister was placed on the steps of Rajaji Hall, in the heart of the city off arterial Anna Salai, four Army men covered it with the national Tricolour.

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs and senior state government officials were among the first to pay homage to Jayalalithaa, who passed away at the Apollo Hospitals here at 11.30 last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.

Jayalithaa’s long time confidante Sasikala Natarajan stood close to the casket.

Security has been beefed up at the venue where people lined up to bid a tearful adieu to their ‘Amma’ (mother) as Jayalithaa was fondly called.

Cries of “Amma” rent the air as the public filed past taking a last glimpse of their beloved leader from a distance away from the stairs, where the Tamil Nadu Ministers were seen seated.

Jayalalithaa’s body was first taken to her Poes Garden residence in the early hours and then brought to the Rajaji Hall.

The funeral will take place at 4.30 pm at the Dr MGR Memorial site off Marina beach, the state government said in an official communication.

All roads leading to Rajaji Hall grounds were bustling with crowds of people who did not mind taking a long walk with public transport, barring trains, remaining off the roads.

After Jayalalithaa’s body was brought to the Rajaji Hall, the crowd could be seen swelling by the minute and the heavy posse of police personnel deployed there were finding it very difficult to control them. Emotional scenes were witnessed as several women were seen wailing and thumping their chests.

The Centre declared a one-day state mourning today in view of the demise of ayalalithaa.

National flag on all government buildings across the country was flown at half-mast.

Public transport services, including autorickshaws, were off the roads while some private vehicles were seen plying in various parts of the city where police personnel kept a tight vigil at vantage points.

A near total shutdown like situation prevailed in the city and several several other parts of the state since last evening itself.

Several leaders have already reached Chennai to attend her funeral which is scheduled to take place at Marina Beach. Superstar Rajnikanth 65, was seen standing next to Sasikala Natarajan, who was Ms Jayalalithaa’s closest aide. The actor then bowed his head in respect, paying tribute to one of the most powerful and successful political leaders in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already reached the Rajaji Hall. President Pranab Mukherjee had boarded the Indian Air Force’s flight but it returned back after a technical snag was reported. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are yet to reach Chennai. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has sent Derek O’brien and MP Kalyan Banerjee on her behalf.

Ms Jayalalithaa died last night in a Chennai hospital, about 70 days after she was admitted there. O Panneerselvam from her party, the AIDMK, has replaced her as Chief Minister.

Like Rajinikanth, Ms Jayalalithaa was a wildly popular actor. She acted in nearly 150 films before she was initiated into politics in the 80s by her former co-star and mentor, MG Ramachandran. In 1996, Rajinikanth, whose fan following is stratospheric, had famously declared “Even God can’t save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa is elected to power”. Ms Jayalalithaa’s rival, the DMK, won that election. The superstar later made up with Ms Jayalalithaa and she attended his daughter’s wedding in Chennai in November 2004. In 2011, he was followed by cameras as he voted. His hand was seen hovering near the two-leaves election symbol of Ms Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK.