Jaya made her mark in Rajya Sabha

Jayalalithaa made her mark as ‘Amma’ in Tamil politics post MGR-era but she had impressed top politicians even before that with her intellect when she was in Rajya Sabha in the 1980s.

Two of the then MPs – Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil – went on to become the country’s President while first timers in Rajya Sabha like Sharad Yadav of JD(U) and Ajit Singh of RLD went on to play prominent roles in national politics.

Rich tributes flowed from leaders who were in Rajya Sabha during her tenure between April 1984 and January 1989, describing her as a great artist and a “towering figure” in Indian politics.

President Mukherjee was the Leader of Rajya Sabha when she entered the Upper House and had glowing words about Jayalalithaa.

“I am deeply saddened at the sad demise of Jayalalithaaji. I knew her for all these years. She first entered the Rajya Sabha when I was Leader of House around early 1980s. Since then, on many occasions I had interactions with her. In all subjects concerning development and administration, she had a wonderful mastery over facts,” Mukherjee remembered.

“She is a fighter and till the last moment, she fought against the cruelty of disease and sufferings. All other battles she won but perhaps everybody has to lose one fight and she has lost that,” he added.

But in her second speech in Rajya Sabha in April 1984, she was not that kind to the then Finance Minister Mukherjee as the Centre refused “point-blank” Tamil Nadu’s demand for 80,000 tonnes of rice.

“The honourable Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, is a very knowledgeable person. At one time he was a Professor of Economics and History, I am told. Surely the honourable Finance Minister remembers the elementary principle which every student of economics knows fully well that a period of depression will usually be followed by a period of prosperity,” she had said.

Yadav, who entered Rajya Sabha in 1985, also remembers Jayalalithaa as one who never used an unnecessary word in her speeches.

In the House, our seats are next to each other. She knew several languages. She was very eloquent and knowledgeable. After P V Narasimha Rao and George Fernandes, she was the only leader knew several languages,” he said.

Husen Dalwai, a former MP based in Mumbai, said, “she used to come prepared for her speeches. She was very popular among MPs. She was a fiery speaker. Every body used to listen to her.”

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 7, 2016)

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