A portrait of former chief minister, late J Jayalalithaa was today unveiled in the Tamil Nadu Assembly by Speaker P Dhanapal amid chants hailing her as revolutionary leader "Amma". A day after the opposition parties, including the DMK, opposed it, the event saw Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Dhanapal paying tributes to the late leader. Members of the main opposition DMK and its allies, the Congress and the IUML, boycotted the event. Rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran and an ally of the ruling party, M Thameemun Ansari (Jayananayaka Manithaneya Makkal Katchi), also stayed away from it. The portrait of Jayalalithaa, in a standing posture in her favourite green saree, was unveiled while a Tamil song (Thanga Tharagaye Varuga), used extensively when she was the chief minister to welcome her to public functions, was briefly played. "Peace, prosperity, growth," a catch-phrase often used by Jayalalithaa to sum up her guiding mantra for the state, was embossed below the portrait. The portrait, decked up with a huge rose garland, was placed right behind the treasury benches (between divisions I and II). Facing the opposition benches, it is the 11th portrait to adorn the House. Portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, social reformer Periyar E V Ramasamy, B R Ambedkar, freedom fighter Muthuramalinga Thevar and IUML leader Quaid-e-Milleth Mohammed Ismail adorn the House on one side. On the other side, portraits of former chief ministers Rajaji, K Kamaraj, C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran and saint- poet Thiruvalluvar are featured. Unveiling the portrait, Dhanapal lauded Jayalalithaa, highlighting her work for the people.
The plans she had devised to put an end to poverty in the state were extraordinary, he said. Jayalalithaa, a legislator for about 21 years, was the chief minister for more than 14 years. She had also been the Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly for over five years and a Rajya Sabha member as well. A visibly emotional Dhanapal said, "I recall with gratitude that it was Amma who had given me life when I was affected in a mishap and all the high offices I had got were also given by her." Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, Assembly Deputy Speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman and the government's Chief Whip, S Rajendran, were on the dais, besides Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and Dhanapal. Sitting and former MPs, current and former MLAs, AIADMK office-bearers, law officers of the government were among those seated in the opposition benches. Likening Jayalalithaa to a phoenix, Palaniswami said the portrait captured her personality, dignity and charisma. For him, it was a life-time opportunity to take part in the event, the chief minister added. Recalling Jayalalithaa's political journey, he listed out the late leader's achievements in various spheres. On the political front, he said, Jayalalithaa created history by making the AIADMK the third biggest party in India by winning 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu in the 2014 Parliamentary election. Hailing her as the "epic mother" who retrieved Tamil Nadu's rights in the Cauvery river water dispute through a legal battle, Palaniswami said through such efforts, she got the Centre to notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in the gazette. Similarly, in the Mullaperiyar dispute, she fought a legal battle in the Supreme Court and got the water level in the dam raised to 142 feet, the chief minister added. He also cited the welfare measures implemented by the late leader such as distribution of free rice to ration card holders, free food at temples and free rice to mosques during Ramadan. Palaniswami said his government had been unwavering in its commitment to continue with such welfare measures. Referring to the late leader's work towards women empowerment, he cited the all-women police stations as a pioneering initiative. Jayalalithaa had dedicated her life for the uplift of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities, Palaniswami said. He added that steps were being taken to make Jayalalithaa's Veda Nilayam residence a memorial, so that future generations got to know about her achievements. Efforts were also on to transform her burial site into a magnificent memorial, Palaniswami said. Recalling Jayalalithaa's leadership in the Assembly, Panneerselvam said she had succeeded in retaining power in the 2016 Assembly polls, reversing the 32-year-long trend in the state of incumbent regimes losing elections.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)