The AIADMK party workers have often worshipped former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Now, an MLA has taken the sycophancy to a whole new level by calling her the 11th avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Speaking on the floor of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, Mariappan Kennedy listed the ten avatars of Vishnu and said that the 11th avatar was 'Amma'.
Of course this isn't the first time Jayalalithaa's followers have discussed her 'superpowers'. After her death, many in Tamil Nadu said that there were instances of murder, mysterious robberies tied to people who were close to Jayalalithaa, or worked at Poes Garden, where the chief minister lived. Some even said they felt the "presence" of the "angry ghost" of Jayalalithaa, reported Hindustan Times earlier.
Amma's followers have a lot of strange beliefs about her. On one occasion, earlier this year, a hoarding in Tamil Nadu popped up, showing the epic scene from Mahabharata-- the one where Lord Krishna and Arjuna are seen riding a chariot in the war against the Kauravas. Krishna's face was replaced with Jayalalithaa's and Arjuna's with VK Sasikala.
When Sasikala first ascended to the post of General Secretary of the AIADMK, she had a strange declaration in her first public speech, "Every day, I hear Amma's aatma telling me, 'I have given you the responsibility of 1.5 crore children'."
In tradition of southern Indian states which treat their silver screen heroes and political leaders as demi-gods, Jayalalithaa too has amassed a following which mirrored the crazy fandom enjoyed by her mentor M G Ramachandran (MGR).
Over the years since she joined AIADMK in 1982, Amma's supporters managed to pull off one insane stunt or the other to show their love for the larger-than-life leader.
When Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in prison in a disproportionate assets case by a Bangalore court in 2014, 16 people reportedly committed suicide, and several others died from shock. Fans and supporters set themselves on fire, consumed poison, hung themselves from ceilings and jumped before vehicles in motion to kill themselves in grief.
In 2015, a Chennai-based martial arts expert 'crucified' himself in front of television cameras, after Jayalalithaa stepped down as CM last year following graft chargers against her. A 50-year-old MLA from Sholavandan once floated in the Madurai Municipal Corporation swimming pool with an AIADMK flag for several minutes to pray for Jayalalithaa's long life.
With all the stories of we have heard about Amma worshipping, the MLA's idea of her barely comes as a surprise.
Also on HuffPost: