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  India   All India  07 Dec 2016  The Jaya we knew: Political leaders remember their 'good friend'

The Jaya we knew: Political leaders remember their 'good friend'

Published : Dec 7, 2016, 3:55 am IST
Updated : Dec 7, 2016, 7:27 am IST

I remember her maiden speech made on the floor of the House, says Najma Heptullah.

Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. (PTI)
 Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. (PTI)

‘I still treasure the red saree she gifted me’
She was already a top-notch actress and a political star when she became a member of Rajya Sabha when I was its Deputy Chairman. I remember her maiden speech made on the floor of the House. She spoke for 45 minutes in impeccable English, and not even once did she look at the piece of paper she was holding, which was apparently a note for her speech. I was very impressed with her speech and we became good friends then. Many years later when I met Jayalalithaa ji at her Poes Garden residence in Chennai, she was the same. She presented me with a red saree, which is in my possession till today. I consider it a treasure and I am very proud to have known her. She hosted me for lunch; chatted with me for hours and finally saw me off till my car – that was the closeness that we shared in our life. Many people said Jayalalithaa ji was stiff and so on, but she always came across a soft, polite and sweet person for me. In fact, it is the end of an era and that is why the whole of Tamil Nadu is in tears. It is a great loss especially for the people of Tamil Nadu because she looked after them like a mother. And when she was jailed, some members were boasting that she was given idli and dosa inside the prison and from my chair, I scolded them for their behaviour since they were demeaning a person, who was in jail. She was one of those politicians who had seen ups and downs in politics but she never bend down; she always held her head high and she was always clear in what she wanted to do. Nothing deterred her in life. She lived the life of a star and she died the life of a star. I will miss her terribly.
— Nejma Heptullah, Manipur Governor and Former Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha

‘She was a lady of few words’
I have always had fond regards for Jayalalithaa ji and I still cherish the memories of our friendship. Jayalalithaa ji and I were great friends beyond politics. I have great pride in admitting that I had watched Hindi films of Jayalalithaa ji. Several welfare programmes and schemes of hers that benefited the poor have been replicated in Delhi (when she was the Chief Minister from 1998-2013). May god rest her soul. Our friendship was not political, but personal. Whenever I met her she always exuded the same warmth; she was a lady of few words but the warmth came through her smile. I had met her several times and congratulated whenever she came to power and she had always reciprocated it by calling me whenever I achieved something in life. She was a great soul and I will miss her forever.
Sheila Dikshit, former Delhi Chief Minister

'She was truly Puratchi Thalaivi’
Jayalalithaa ji was an outstanding leader with infinite courage. She was highly respected and loved by the people and she rose to become an icon in Tamil Nadu. She was beyond the boundaries of caste and creed. She had a clear clarity of thought and her choice of phrase in English was impeccable. Once when I asked her if she ever thought of becoming a lawyer, she said she would have loved to become a lawyer, but due to my family commitments she came into the field of creativity. I had the opportunity to represent her in a few cases in the Madras High Court and in the Supreme Court. We both had great sense for biographies and autobiographies and we had even exchanged books. She had a defined agenda for development as well as concern for the poor. If today Chennai is known as automobile hub of the country, it is only because of Jayalalithaa ji’s efforts. One can call anyone by name Amma, but she earned the trust from the people that she can deliver for them. She was truly an Amma to the people of Tamil Nadu. In 2011, when L K Advani ji’s yatra was diverted from Madurai after a suspicious object was found near a culvert, there were anxious moments. But finally when everything was fine, she rang up both Advani ji and myself and said she would have a deep sense of guilt if something had happened. These are the extraordinary qualities of Jayalalithaa. She always stood for Tamil Nadu but she had very strong views on national issues. Sixty-eight is no age to go. She is really a Puratchi Thalaivi and may she rest in peace.
Ravishankar Prasad, Union Law Minister
— (As told to E.T.B. Sivapriyan)

Tags: jayalalithaa dead, sheila dikshit