President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi led leaders cutting across party lines in paying rich tributes to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday.
Draped in the Tricolour, the body of the 68-year-old AIADMK leader was kept at the Rajaji Hall, a British-era building in Chennai, where teary-eyed people paid homage to the six-time chief minister who died overnight.
President Mukherjee and Prime Minister Modi are among those who are travelling to Chennai to pay their last respects to the departed leader. She will be cremated at the Marina Beach.
The President called Jayalalithaa “one of India’s most charismatic and popular leaders” and a “visionary and able administrator”.
One of India’s most charismatic & popular leaders, Ms. Jayalalithaa was a visionary & able administrator #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) December 5, 2016
“Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people. In her passing away, the nation has lost an icon who was loved and admired by millions. Her contribution to the progress and development of Tamil Nadu will be long remembered,” he said.
Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) December 5, 2016
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said he was “deeply saddened” at the passing away of Jayalalithaa and her demise has left a “huge void in Indian politics.”
“I will always cherish the innumerable occasions when I had the opportunity to interact with Jayalalithaa ji. May her soul rest in peace,” Modi, who enjoyed a good personal equation with the late leader, said.
Jayalalithaa ji’s connect with citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women & marginalized will always be a source of inspiration.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 5, 2016
Vice-president Hamid Ansari also condoled her death, saying Jayalalithaa’s demise is an “irreparable loss to the people of India”.
“An eminent public figure, a charismatic personality, she had immense influence over the political developments in Tamil Nadu as well as the national level. As chief minister of Tamil Nadu, her contributions towards the economic development of the state and social welfare of the poorer segments will be long remembered and cherished,” Ansari said.
In a rare gesture, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced that the Lok Sabha will be adjourned for the day. “She was a true leader of the masses. The country has lost a highly popular, courageous and prominent leader,” she said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who shared bitter relations with Jayalalithaa for more than one-and-a-half-decade, hailed her as a “towering figure in our national and political life, who won admiration across the political spectrum for the intrepid spirit with which she faced the ups and downs of her life in politics.”
“Selvi Jayalalithaa lived her entire life with the same indomitable courage with which she battled her illness. As the leader of AIADMK and four-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, she had a unique and deep empathy with the needs and hopes of the people, and put in place policies that immeasurably improved their lives,” Sonia said.
Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi condoles Selvi J.Jayalalithaa's death & pays homage. pic.twitter.com/SaQlk3gZAb— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) December 5, 2016
Senior BJP leaders, including former deputy prime minister LK Advani and party president Amit Shah, paid rich tributes and condoled her death.
“I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of J Jayalalithaa. She was dominant political personality from Tamil Nadu and was a very popular, dynamic leader of the poor and downtrodden,” Advani said in a statement.
Several chief ministers and regional leaders also joined in condoling her death.
“It is an unfortunate loss, not only for Tamil Nadu politics but also for rest of the country,” Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said, adding that one-day mourning has been declared in the state.
तमिलनाडु की मुख्यमंत्री जयललिता जी का निधन दुखद. ईश्वर उनकी आत्मा को शांति दें. बिहार में एक दिन का राजकीय शोक घोषित.— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) December 5, 2016
“V sad to hear the demise of Amma. A very very popular leader. Aam admi’s leader. May her soul rest in peace,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
V sad to hear the demise of Amma. A very very popular leader. Aam admi's leader. May her soul rest in peace.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 5, 2016
Recalling Jayalalithaa’s contributions in the fields of films and politics spread over four decades, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “She was one of the most respected leaders in the Tamil Nadu politics who earned the affectionate title of ‘Amma’ on account of her deep concern for the people.”
#Jayalalithaa ji's work for the people is inspiring.— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) December 5, 2016
May Her soul rest in peace.
My deepest condolences to the people of Tamil Nadu.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav also expressed his condolence over Jayalalithaa’s demise. “At a time when the country is inclining towards dictatorship, such leader was needed,” he said.
In a message released by her party, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati described the late AIADMK leader as “popular, far-sighted and an able administrator” who championed the cause of the poor, downtrodden and the marginalised sections of the society.
Mayawati expressed her solidarity with the followers, supporters and family members of Jayalalithaa who died on Monday night after suffering a cardiac arrest on Sunday.
K Kavitha, Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader and a member of Parliament, said Jayalalithaa had the rare ability to bounce back.
“In her political career she faced all the difficulties that Indian women face at work but she only grew stronger and inspired us,” she said.