This was one directive by the AIADMK supremo that party cadres ignored with impunity — instead they competed with one another in flouting it on Friday.
On her 64th birthday, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa had asked her party leaders and the cadre to keep the celebrations low key and to show their affection towards her through philanthropic acts.
The ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (revolutionary leader) or Amma (mother) herself celebrated a green birthday a day in advance by kicking off a 64-lakh tree-planting drive. At the party headquarters, leaders cut a 64-kg cake and vied with each other in putting up the biggest hoarding, poster or birthday message.
While a giant banner portrayed her as the leader-in-waiting for a national role against the backdrop of Parliament House, 40-feet high posters of her flashing the victory sign greeted motorists on city roads.
In central Chennai’s T Nagar, posters gave onlookers a panoramic insight into the CM’s journey from her childhood to a film career that catapulted her into the chief ministerial chair.
Chennai mayor Saidi Duraiswamy said, “They (cadres) will never follow any order when it comes to displaying their love and affection for Amma.”
AIADMK worker S Loganathan, however, differed. “It is the first birthday after Amma came to power in May for the third time, but celebrations are low key.”
Not to ignore their supreme leader's wish altogether, there was also a show of charity and that of championing a good cause. In Dindigal, party unit held a mass wedding for 64 couples. Distribution of free sarees and dhotis, notebooks to students and mass feeding of the poor were among other activities organised by party workers.
But, the one marked difference was Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide Sasikala Natarajan’s absence. She spent the day being grilled at a Bangalore court.