NEW DELHI -- Paying his tributes to late chief minister Jayalalithaa, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday asserted that she was a woman in a man's world, who filled the shoes of her political mentor Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, adding that she exceeded him in many ways in terms of her 25 years of dominance in state politics.
"She was a remarkably iconic leader. Jayalalithaa was a woman in a man's world who dominated with the combination of the charisma of her movie star career as well as the authority that came from her leadership of the party," Tharoor told ANI.
Emphasising that she was an extremely powerful leader, Tharoor stated that it was quite an unusual sight to see her cabinet ministers prostrating themselves at her feet, adding that there were simply no leaders in her party who could match her.
"She had a reputation of being a populist leader for the poor. All the Amma programmes, her name and face were visible on laptops for children, bags of rice, Amma canteen and she managed to extended welfare benefits to lots of people," Tharoor said.
Praising Jayalalithaa's extraordinary contribution as an administrator, the Congress leader recalled her role after the tsunami saying that Tamil Nadu coped very well under her government at the time.
"The coastal people were very appreciative of her role. There was a lot that was done by the Tamil Nadu Government under her leadership," he said.
"Today she has passed into history. It is difficult to say now what will happen next. Will the party that has a majority in the assembly hold together? Will they be able to maintain their strength? To find ways to move forwards or will there be a risk of others to exploit the nature of the situation. At the moment there is a concern that she leaves behind a very big void in Tamil Nadu politics," Tharoor added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid floral tributes at Rajaji Hall in Chennai, placing a wreath on her mortal remains.
The Prime Minister, on reaching Chennai airport, boarded an IAF helicopter and landed at INS Adayar.
He also offered his condolences and blessings to Jayalalithaa's close aide Sasikala who stood close to Jayalalithaa's body, members of her family and to Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam among others.
President Pranab Mukherjee has also departed again from Delhi to pay tribute to Jayalalithaa, after the IAF plane carrying him returned to Delhi following a technical swag.
Earlier, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also visited Rajaji Hall.
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Odisha CM Naveen Pattnaik will be attending Jayalalithaa's funeral ceremony.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishnan will also be attending her last rites. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda will also be a part of the funeral ceremony.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will also be leaving for Chennai to pay his last respects.
The Centre has declared one-day mourning in view of the demise of Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa, whereas the state government has declared seven-day mourning.
Jayalalithaa's last rites will be performed today at 4.30 p.m. at MGR Memorial, Marina beach.
Also on HuffPost India: