On September 22, 2016, a cool winter night, the political situation in the state of Tamil Nadu was seeing the beginning of a spark that would create one of the worst political heat.
The Amma of Tamil Nadu, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, was rushed to the Apollo Hospital and there was a lot of buzz on her health condition for the next three months.
The long waits outside the Greams road hospital always ended with the spokespersons of the party giving more and more promises of an improving condition of the CM until catastrophe struck on the late hours of December 5 - the demise of Jaya.
This was just the beginning of the late night dramatic events that were to unfold in the state. Among the slew of unexpected decisions were - Jaya's most trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam (OPS) made the chief minister and her 'shadow' Sasikala elevated to the position of AIADMK general secretary.
If the reverence that was showed to Chinamma was to be taken at its face value the developments that followed in a matter of two months is something that is astonishing.
SASIKALA TOO FOLLOWED THE FOOTSTEPS
While Jaya was always criticized for the way her party members behaved with her - bowing, prostrating and touching the ground that she was walking on - the way the party members behaved with Sasikala was no different and Sasikala too had adapted to the absence of her "Akka" and her new responsibility really quick. She greeted those who bowed to her, wore the same shades of sarees, and even quickly got the photo shoots done that were to adorn the state of Tamil Nadu.
But history has proved it time and again that power is intoxicating and power once acquired makes it hard for one to let go of it. Though OPS who until he was asked to step down as the chief minister, a seat that he had safeguarded for Jaya a couple of times, seemed too honour bound to do the same for Sasikala. The late night meditation at the Jaya memorial got many supporters for OPS, but it also left many wondering about the actual need for power.
"I am ready to continue as the Chief Minister if the people of the state want me to. I was forced to resign by Sasikala and her family," OPS had said after the long meditation, which he said was done because of a call by Amma's spirit.
Marina beach has been the most fascinating spot for most visitors and the residents of the city of Chennai, but the second largest beach in the world has attained more attention since December after several felt Jaya's presence.
The strong AIADMK which was a "military party", the loving description of the spokesperson of the AIADMK, CR Saraswathy, has now turned into multiple factions. "We listen to our Amma and Amma knows what is best for us," is the common statement of most AIADMK leaders and now even after her death it seems like Amma continues to be the guiding force for many.
FORMATIONS OF NEW FACTIONS
The greed for power and the lack of a strong leadership has led to the formation of a new wing. What started off with a split between Sasikala and OPS loyalist, later saw a faction of Deepa (Jaya's niece's supporters) emerging.
With Sasikala already behind the bars and her nephew - TTV Dinakaran, who is her deputy, facing multiple cases and all their trusted knights facing IT raids, the Sasikala faction seems to have a dwindling number with most of the senior leaders ready for a compromise with the OPS faction leaving.
This leaves with a Sasikala faction, an Eddapadi Palaniswami (EPS) faction, an OPS faction, a Deepa faction and now after a long meditation and seeking the blessings of aunt Jaya - Madhavan - Deepa's husband too has flouted a new party - MGR Jayalalithaa Dravida Munetra Kazhagam.
Jaya, the Amma of the people of Tamil Nadu always said, "Makkalal naan, Makkalakaga naan" (I am made by the people of Tamil Nadu and I am for the people of Tamil Nadu), after her demise crores of AIADMK cadres were saddened by the mysterious death but even as the people have learnt to move on, the leaders of the factions have not learn to walk alone.
With Amma's spirit always guiding them and energising them but still none of the leaders have managed to create the persona that Jaya and her predecessor MGR had. The ongoing turmoil within the party has left a once strong AIADMK now in the lurch.