Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi left for Chennai Tuesday morning to attend the funeral of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa who died last night.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and party general secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu Mukul Wasnik accompanied Rahul.
He had earlier visited Apollo Hospital in Chennai on October 7 to enquire about Jayalalithaa’s health.
“We lost a great leader today. Women, farmers, fishermen and the marginalised dreamt through her eyes. We will miss Jayalalithaaji, Amma to millions,” the Congress V-P tweeted.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also expressed grief over the demise of the AIADMK supremo. “The Congress party, my family and I personally, share the grief and pain of the people of Tamil Nadu and her devoted supporters in the AIADMK, who have lost their beloved Amma,” she said in a statement.
“She was a towering figure in our national and political life, who won admiration across the political spectrum for the intrepid spirit with she faced the ups and downs of her life in politics, for her commitment to the people of her state, and her dedication to the honour of India.”
Sonia and Jayalalithaa shared bitter relations for more than one-and-a-half-decade. The ties soured after she aligned with the BJP in 1998 over Sonia’s foreign origin issue. However, a tea party 13 months later attended by the two leaders in a five star hotel in Delhi on March 29, 1999 virtually brought down the NDA government at the Centre headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Selvi Jayalalithaa lived her entire life with the same indomitable courage with which she battled her last illness,” Sonia said in the statement.
As the leader of the AIADMK and as six-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, the Congress chief said Jayalalithaa had a unique and deep empathy with the needs and hopes of the people, and put in place policies that immeasurably improved their lives.
“Whether it was her welfare schemes for the rural and urban poor, her swift relief measures in the aftermath of the tsunami, or her vision for Tamil Nadu’s industrial development, her leadership qualities and administrative abilities were truly outstanding,” the Congress president said.