For the silver screen goddess who ruled South Indian filmdom long before she sparkled on the dravidian political firmament, diamonds and gold are nothing new. Except, Jayaram Jayalalitaa dumped her jewellrey into their respective boxes and tucked away as her mark of protest against all the 'false cases' foisted on her by political opponents -- read DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.
Fourteen years ago, after she was raided in connection with a spate of corruption cases, the AIADMK supremo vowed not to wear jewellrey again till she came out unscathed from all the cases.
And all these years she was seen, in her spartan public appearances, without any jewellrey.
But yes, she has had to bow to public pressure -- and more important her cadres -- who pleaded with her to wear gold and jewellrey without which the attire of a South Indian woman is not complete.
Seen as a sign and blessing of Goddess Lakshmi, (goddess of wealth in Indian mythology), women cutting across caste, creed and class sport jewellrey as much as their pockets allowed. A highly paid star of her times and leading lady in many a Tamil and Telugu film hits, Jayalalithaa too has had accumulated her share of the metal that shines.
But her vow and woes started in 1997 after police raided her house. She took a solemn pledge not to flaunt any gold or diamond jewelry until and unless she was cleared of all the charges from the courts of law.
So far, he has been acquitted in several cases, except the one relating to unproportionate assets pending in a court in Bangalore. "Madam will come out clean from that case too," said a senior AIADMK leader.
At her Wednesday meet the press programme, a diamond earring sporting Jayalalithaa was only waiting for the question to be posed.
Hitting the delivery for a six, the Tamil Nadu chief minister said "I was expecting this question." Recounting the tale behind her diamond earrings, Jayalalithaa said how she shoved away her glittering gold and sparkling diamonds for the past 14 years. "But the insistence of partymen and partywomen made her rethink her decision, especially after the peoples court gave a resounding verdict by punishing her opponents, who are no facing serious charges of mammoth corruption. DMK leaders are now making a beeline to the jail -- first was former telecom minister A Raja followed by DMK patriarch's own daughter Kanimozhi and his nephew Dayanidhi Maran facing the very prospect.
So, bowing to peoples pressure, Jayalalithaa has begun wearning her jewels -- a small diamond earring to start with. During electioneering the only 'ornament' she indulged in was a 'wristwatch' to keep her reminding of the election commission imposed deadline for completing the day's campaign at 10 p.m. sharp.
After the mammoth election victory, AIADMK cadres converged on her Poes Gardens residence for celebrations and prayers for her success as chief minister for the third time. "Women party workers, worker after worker, pleaded with her to start wearing jwelry as not wearing would be a bad omen," said an AIADMK functionary.
"My cadres even threatened to commit self immolation if I do not wear jewellery," Jayalalithaa said and explained that to "prevent any untoward incidents and to keep cadres happy" she starting sporting
She chose May 14, a day after votes were counted that gave Jayalalithaa a thumping majority on her own to form a government, with a strike rate of over 90 per cent in terms of seats contested and won, to assuage the feelings of her party cadres.