Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa has passed away at 68, leaving a vacuum in Tamil politics, her party leaderless, and plunging into grief millions of ordinary Tamil people who revered her as Amma (mother) and elected her four times to lead the state with massive mandates.
She breathed her last at Chennai's Apollo Hospital, where she had been hospitalised since 22 September. On Sunday, hours after her party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), said she has completely recovered and will return home soon, the hospital announced that she had suffered a cardiac arrest.
NDTV reports that her body will be placed at Rajaji Hall for people to pay their last respect.
A 7-day state mourning and 3-day holiday were declared in Tamil Nadu after her death.
In a statement, Apollo Hospitals said:
"It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11:30 pm today (5.12.2016).
Our Honourable Chief Minister Selvi J Jayalalithaa was admitted in 22. 9. 2016, with complaints of fever and dehydration and underlying co-morbidities. The Honourable Chief Minister responded well to the multi-disciplinary care in the critical care unit and subsequently recovered substantially to being able to take food orally. On this basis, Honourable Chief Minister was shifted from the Advance Critical Care Unit to High Dependancy Unit, where her health and vitals continued to improve under the close monitoring by our expert panel of specialists.
Unfortunately, the Hourable Chief Minister suffered a massive cardiac arrest on the evening of the 4th December 2016, even while our intensivist was in her room. The Honourable Chief Minister administered resuscitation (CPR), and provided ECMO support with the hour. ECMO is the most advance treatment currently available internationally. Every possible clinical attempt was made to sustain her revival. However, despite our best efforts, the Hounourable Chief Ministers underlying conditions rendered her unable to recover and she passed away at 11:30 PM today (5.12.2016).
Every member of the Apollo Hospitals family, the clinicians, the nursing and paramedical staff have strived hard to provide the highest standards of care to our beloved Chief Minister. We have worked tirelessly, combined the might of the clinical and technological resources at our command with the spirit of healing and compassion that inspires us. We join the nation and the people of the state of Tamil Nadu in deeply mourning her loss."
Doctors were closely monitoring her condition the entire day. She had has been put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a heart assist device, and was under the watch of expert doctors.
Violence broke out Monday evening outside Apollo hospital after local channels reported she had passed away.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration, and later treated for infection and respiratory problem.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi President Pranab Mukherjee and several other leaders expressed condolences.
Deeply saddened at the passing away of Selvi Jayalalithaa. Her demise has left a huge void in Indian politics.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 5, 2016
Heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of Ms. Jayaram Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) December 5, 2016
Jayalalithaa had been elected the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time in 1991 and held office till 1996. Since then she has been elected three times to power--in 2001, 20011 and 2015.
With an acting career that began at the age of 15, she made her foray into politics when she joined AIADMK in 1982. A BBC report says that after acting in 100 films, many of them with MG Ramachandran who founded the AIADMK, she was brought into the party by him. She became the party leader and leader of Opposition in 1989, two years after Ramachandran's death.