Chennai, Dec 6 (IANS) For one who was only a regional politician, albeit with national ambitions, the country’s Who’s Who in politics paid tributes on Tuesday to late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
In death, the AIADMK leader earned a pan-India respectability that eluded her during the nearly three decades she spent in politics.
Almost all political parties across the country saluted Jayalalitha after she died on Monday night following a valiant 74-day battle for life.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H. D. Deve Gowda, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Chief Ministers Naveen Patnaik, Arvind Kejriwal, Siddaramaiah and Akhilesh Yadav flew down to Chennai on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Jayalalithaa.
Leaders from the BJP, Congress, the Left, NCP, Janata Dal-United, RJD, Shiv Sena, Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samiti also paid homage to the actor-turned-politician and lauded her leadership qualities and administrative acumen.
Even the DMK, her biggest foe, saluted Jayalalithaa.
President Pranab Mukherjee cancelled his other engagements to also fly to Chennai on Tuesday.
Parliament as well as the Maharashtra and Orissa assemblies were adjourned for the day after paying tributes to Jayalalithaa.
Apart from the union government, the Kerala, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand governments declared one to three days of mourning as a mark of respect to Jayalalithaa.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who could not make it to Chennai, said Jayalalithaa lived her entire life with the same “indomitable courage with which she battled her last illness”.
BJP President Amit Shah said: “Her work as the Chief Minister and love for the people of state will always be remembered. Her tireless and relentless work has brought about a sea change in the politics and working of Tamil Nadu.”
Veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani added: “She was the dominant political personality from Tamil Nadu and was a very popular, dynamic leader of the poor and downtrodden.”
DMK leader M. Karunanidhi gave the ultimate salute: “The wishes of lakhs of her followers will make her immortal.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called her “popular, strong, bold, efficient, people-friendly, charismatic leader”.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described her death as “very saddening”. He announced a day’s mourning in his state.
RJD leader Lalu Prasad called her a “pro-poor, popular, bold, strong and result-oriented leader” and said she would be dearly missed.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao said that at a time when few women made it to politics, Jayalalithaa created history by becoming the AIADMK General Secretary and then the Chief Minister.
Among the hundreds of thousands who flocked to the Rajaji Hall for a final look at the departed leader were movie star Rajinikanth and cricketer Krishnamachari Srikanth.
Diplomats did not lag behind.
US Ambassador Richard Verma extended “on behalf of the US, my deepest condolences to the family of Jayalalithaa and the people of Tamil Nadu”.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said she was a “towering presence in Indian politics”. Jayalalithaa often took on the authorities in Colombo for arresting and shooting Indian fishermen at sea.