TN on edge as Jaya ‘critical’

  • Panneerselvam to be successor

Chennai: Close to 24 hours, Tamil Nadu in general and Chennai in particular has been on edge. The news of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa suffering a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening has sent shockwaves across the state. The news was particularly unnerving to millions of her party workers and admirers because both the Apollo Hospital where she is being treated and AIADMK officials had been assuring an eagerly awaiting public that their ‘Amma’ was recovering and could return home any time.

Earlier on Sunday, her party said she was directing important decisions and speaking occasionally to those who were allowed to visit her. By evening, the situation had changed so much that the Apollo Hospital issued a medical bulletin stating that the 68-year-old leader had suffered a cardiac arrest and she was being treated by a team of specialists.

According to the latest reports, “she is in a very critical condition and on life support in the ICU.” As she was fighting for life in the hospital, lakhs of her fans were crying, sobbing and praying for her health outside the hospital. Some were seen bitterly complaining that they were not being allowed to visit her.

Meanwhile, it has been reported, all the MLAs of ruling AIADMK have been called one by one to the Apollo Hospital to sign a declaration that OP Panneerselvam, the de facto CM in the absence of Jayalalithaa and her confidante, will be her successor.

The Tamil Nadu government has deployed thousands of police personnel around the Apollo Hospital to prevent a rush of emotion-overtaken people into the hospital. Extra security forces have been deployed in many areas of Chennai and in important cities and towns across Tamil Nadu. One reason for the additional security is ordinary Tamilians are highly emotional and there are fears some may resort to suicide if something happens to ‘Amma.’

In the city, as elsewhere, life was almost normal except the ongoing demonetization woes. Local public transport was unaffected but some educational institutions had declared a holiday voluntarily.

The Central Government has been in touch with the Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to go to Chennai.

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