RIP Jayalalithaa

Jayalalithaa Jayaraman (24 February 1948 – 5 December 2016) was an Indian politician who served five terms as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, from 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006, from 2011 to 2014, and finally from 2015 to 2016. She was a leading actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films from 1961 to 1980 in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi industries. She was re-elected as Chief Minister on 19 May 2016 and took the oath as Chief Minister for the sixth time on 23 May 2016. She died on 5 December 2016 after 75 days of illness and subsequent hospitalisation, where multiple attempts to resuscitate her after she suffered a cardiac arrest failed.

On 22 September 2016, Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals, Greame’s Road, Chennai, for infection and acute dehydration. Over the next 74 days, she was treated by a team of specialist doctors from Apollo, AIIMS and from the UK. Her condition slowly improved. Her official duties were handed over to her aide O. Panneerselvam on October 12. She was also said to be suffering from severe pulmonary infection and septicaemia, which were cured. During the course of treatment, her right arm was said to be swollen, as indicated by her inability to affix her signature on the November bye-election nomination papers for three of her party members who were standing for the elections. On 4 December, specialist doctors at AIIMS declared her “fit” and ready to be shifted to her house in Poes Garden whenever ready, indicating that she was well, conscious and aware of events around her since her first signs of major improvement in November. The next day, however, she was re-admitted to the CCU after she suffered a cardiac arrest around 16:45.

The hospital’s Executive Director Sangita Reddy said that she was in a critical state. The hospital also released a press statement saying that the chief minister’s condition was “very critical” and that she was on life support. According to India Today, AIADMK MLAs were summoned to the hospital to sign a declaration naming Panneerselvam as her successor. In the afternoon of 5 December, Tamil channels issued premature reports of Jayalalithaa’s death, which were swiftly rejected by the hospital. The hospital officially announced the death of the chief minister on 5 December 2016 at 11:30 PM.

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