POLITICS

Three Times Jayalalithaa Shook Up The Political Power Centre In Delhi

The lady of situations.

07/12/2016 1:14 PM IST | Updated 07/12/2016 3:38 PM IST
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Narendra Modi (L), Mulayam Singh Yadav (C) and Jayalalitha (R) in 2005.

The late J Jayalalithaa was a towering leader of the Tamil people, who revered her as Amma. But her impact on Delhi politics, though she did not seem to have too many aspirations for a national role, was significant too.

Always canny and sharp, she bore no allegiance to any party except to her own -- or rather, she forged alliance with whoever it was expedient at the time and when the circumstances demanded it.

Consider these key moments when she shook up the political establishment in Delhi during her long career, throwing both allies and enemies into a state of confusion with her shifting affiliations.

1. One of the early instances of Jayalalithaa's notorious flip-flops came to the forefront in 1998, when the possibility of Sonia Gandhi becoming the prime minister became prominent. In spite of being on good terms with Rajiv Gandhi, she described the scenario as a "national tragedy", but that didn't deter her in the least from calling Sonia Gandhi a "close friend" when the two met, and sat next to each other, at the famous tea party organised by Subramaniam Swamy.

2. Although senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), M Venkaiah Naidu and Narendra Modi, were fond of her till the end of her life, Jayalalithaa's relationship with the party was far from constant. In 1998 her AIADMK party joined the National Democratic Alliance, headed by the BJP, but soon withdrew support after the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, refused to dismiss all pending corruption cases against her and the government of Tamil Nadu at the time, run by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), arch-rival of AIADMK. Her decision led to the downfall of the NDA, 13 months after it had assumed office.

3. In 2011, she cast a huge blow to the Left, which, with the help of then General Secretary Prakash Karat had been trying to broker an alliance with AIADMK. Shortly before the assembly elections, she decided to sever all ties with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leaving it in the lurch.

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