Ailing Amma & TN vacuum
In many ways, both Jayalalithaa and MGR had brought their medical crisis on their heads by either taking the medical advice casually or were under the false notion that there was no serious health problem, says the writer V S Harsha
Frequently, unconfirmed rumours spread like wildfire and in a State like Tamil Nadu where hearts rule over fans’ minds
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been in the hospital for the past fortnight for an undisclosed ailment and during this uneasy phase of administrative paralysis, there was no word beyond a one-liner statement from the hospital stating that she was suffering from dehydration and viral Fever. The hospitalisation would have gone unnoticed had the CM returned to her work within a week which did not happen.
It’s equally mystifying that in this nearly fortnight absence of the CM, the media showed no interest in ‘educating’ the people how many files were pending, how many projects await the CM’s clearance and how many came to a grinding halt awaiting CM’s clearance for fund release. It’s believed that On September 27, Jayalalithaa after discussing the issues related to the Cauvery water row, dictated her speech to be read out by Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao at the meeting of the executive heads of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The one relieving point amidst wild rumours ranging from her deteriorating health with her being put on a ventilator to her kidney failure was the statement from Apollo hospital on Sunday allaying fears of any danger and stating that she is responding well to the treatment and would be required to stay in the hospital for few more days. The sad part of Amma’s ill health was the political mile- age attempt by former CM M Karuna- nidhi.
He wanted the AIADMK leaders to release her hospital pictures to reassure people that all is well with her! Either he was suspecting something serio- usly wrong with her health or he wanted to embarrass the cadres on the successor in the event of any leadership vacuum. ! The current treatment plan of Jayalalithaa is based on the detailed discussions the expert group of doctors had with British doctor Richard Beale.
According to the statement, Beale is Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Guy's and St. Thomas Hospital, London. As per the London hospital's website, Beale is one of its critical care consultants and clinical director, peri operative, pain and critical care directorate. Jayalalithaa’s ill health reminds one of MGR’s hospitalisation at Apollo in 1984. MGR was gasping desperately for breath, his chest heaving as it strained to gulp in air.
But even as the hospital was galvanised into sudden frenetic activity, MGR gave one clear instruction: "Don't tell anyone I am here; don't let anyone know that I have been brought to the hospital." Did Jayalalithaa take the cue from her mentor and preferred to keep her health condition a highly confidential matter? Doctors who attended on MGR said that if his admission to the hospital was delayed by even a few minutes, his life would have been beyond saving.
For the next five hours Dr Pratap Reddy and other doctors on the staff of the privately-managed luxury, hospital struggled to get the CM to breathe normally again. And dawn was close at hand when MGR was able to speak at last. An obviously grateful MGR asked Reddy: "Do you do this for all your patients?" In many ways, both Jayalalithaa and MGR had brought their medical crisis on their heads by either taking the medical advice casually or were under the false notion that there was no serious health problem.
In MGR’s case, he was suffering from kidney failure and other health problems which were kept under wraps from his own ministerial colleagues. Jayalalithaa too is reportedly going through the same problem which is not yet disclosed. There are unmistakable similarities in both Jayalalithaa and MGR’s health parameters. She is an acute diabetic with high-sugar levels, uncontrollable obesity and erratic thyroid levels.
The first rumours of her ill health surfaced after she failed to make many public appearances and the DMK issued a statement asking for a full disclosure on what she's suffering from. “You please take rest and take care of your health. A chief minister of state should be transparent,” said former CM Karunanidhi. who ironically himself isn't in the pink of health. A Tehelka report, however, claimed she might have to go to Texas for a kidney transplant due to renal failure caused by painkillers.
Reports also say Jayalalithaa is also suffering from gangrene in her toes that could force her to undergo treatment like dialysis at home. Even during her swearing-in, which was just 25-minutes-long, Jaya struggled to walk. She has attended the secretariat only twice, the State Cabinet hasn't met even once since she returned as CM and she even inaugurated the Chennai Metro through video conferencing, the report said.
It also quoted an official as saying that Jayalalithaa was ‘seen wincing while walking’ to her office and had to hold a railing. While the party bravely defends its leader and Jayalalithaa maintains silence, it is the BJP that is the most worried. With the AIADMK chief unavai lable, the party has no clue about the AIADMK's party MPs stand on various issues in the upcoming session of Parliament. The news report said that the Home Department is worried about a possible law and order situation in the event of Jayalalithaa's worsening health conditions.
It’s not surprising to hear a comment from a die-hard Jayalalithaa fan, aged 70, that he was her fan right from the age of 14 and vowed not to leave the hospital till her ‘Amma’ returns from hospital hale and hearty. ! Similarly, MGR fans too went to disbelieving levels with one telling the doctors that he would not eat till MGR was fine and another fan offered his brain to the chief minister! Frequently, unconfirmed rumours spread like wildfire and in a State like Tamil Nadu where hearts rule over fans’ minds, there is the other version that the doctors are not revealing the whole truth, just like in MGR’s case.
There would also be a discreet power struggle for the succession and as it happened earlier, Pannerselvan would discharge the duties in Amma’s absence but going by his total loyalty to his leader, he may not fully involve in the official work. Last time, when Jayalalithaa was in Karnataka jail, Paneerselvan did not even step into her chamber but preferred to work from his ministerial house.
In the final analysis, however, the political situation remains more fluid than it has ever been in the recent past. There is little doubt that the AIADMK which returned to power with a comfortable majority may face the danger of disinte gration if Jayalalithaa does not return fully recovered in a couple of weeks. So every political calculation depends vitally on how quickly and how effectively Amma recovers, and whether and how soon she would be fit to discharge her official duties.