Ailing AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa has put her thumb impression on the election affidavit of a party nominee in an assembly bypoll because her right hand is swollen and inflamed, documents show.
A document filed by AK Bose, the Thirupparankundram candidate, showed the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s thumb impressions in the designated space for signature.
Such impressions were also seen on a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer about her party’s official candidates for the November 19 by-elections.
The 68-year-old’s thumb impressions were authenticated by Dr P Balaji, a professor at Madras Medical College.
“The signatory has undergone tracheotomy recently and has an inflamed right hand she is temporarily unable to affix her signature. Hence she has affixed her left thumb impression on her own in my presence,” the professor wrote in a note added to the electoral affidavit.
Last month, expelled party MP Sasikala Pushpa warned that people may be using Jayalalithaa’s signature without her knowledge as she convalesces, and urged the Governor to authenticate any documents that came out of Apollo hospital.
“If there are any election affidavits with her signature on them, I urge the Centre to probe the matter immediately to verify whether they are authentic,” the Rajya Sabha MP told a regional channel in an interview.
Jayalalithaa has been in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital since September 22. She was admitted to the facility after she complained of high fever and dehydration, and the rumour mills have been running overtime since then. Initial press releases from the hospital failed to throw any light on the exact nature of her ailment, creating further confusion.
The hospital’s latest health update simply said Jayalalithaa, who is on respiratory support and is suffering from an unspecified lung infection, was “interacting and gradually progressing,” sentiments echoed by the party’s spokespersons.
“She is recovering well, and will be back in charge soon,” says C Saraswati, AIADMK leader and spokesperson.
Although several important leaders - including Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao and leader of the opposition in the state assembly MK Stalin - have visited Chennai’s Apollo Hospital to enquire about the ailing six-time CM, but none have been able to meet her.
Earlier this month, the governor moved her portfolios to state finance minister O Panneerselvam after intense criticism by opposition parties. Panneerselvam has stood in for Jayalalithaa as an interim CM twice before after she was arrested in 2001 and 2014, and is currently chairing cabinet meetings.