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Jayalalithaa’s final days in hospital: Stress, devotional music, and Mao Zedong

The Justice Arumughaswamy committee, which was set up to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016, has made several revelations regarding the ex-AIADMK leader. Among the stories that are eloquently detailed in the paper are her talk with a doctor about Mao and leadership and her assistant Sasikala’s account of what happened in 2016. The research takes relevance since Jayalalithaa’s 75-day hospital stay was cloaked in secrecy and gave rise to several conspiracy theories regarding how she passed away.

After 75 days of treatment, Jayalalithaa passed dead on December 5, 2016, at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, where she had been hospitalised. In the investigation report, the Justice Arumughaswamy committee identified a few mistakes, including the fact that she was not sent overseas for treatment despite specialists’ advice. Here are some further findings revealed in the Jayalalithaa death inquiry report, which was presented to the Tamil Nadu legislature this week. Jayalalithaa had a hole in her heart, and doctors from the AIIMS and Dr. Richard Beale of the UK had advised an angiography and treatment overseas.

VK Close aide Sasikala, who was expelled from the party shortly after Jayalalithaa passed away, addressed the late chief minister as ‘Akka,’ which is Tamil for ‘sister,’ in a written testimony she provided to the Justice Arumughaswamy panel. She claims that just after the state elections in 2016, in which the AIADMK won handily, Jayalalithaa’s conviction in a case involving disproportionate assets left her suffering from extreme mental stress and other problems. The report goes on to describe what happened before she was hospitalised.

‘Blisters, itchiness, and psoriasis appeared on several areas of Akka [Jayalalithaabody ]’s beginning in 2016. Akka was struggling mightily to do her routine government tasks. They [doctors] made the decision to provide tiny doses of steroids for a little time. Skin conditions were resolved. Doctors gradually decreased the amount of steroids, ‘ Sasikala stated in her statement.

Sasikala went on to detail how, following an official event on September 21, 2016, Jayalalithaa suffered a high temperature and went home. After observing Jayalalithaa’s Akka weary the next day, Sasikala recommended her to visit a hospital. Jayalalithaa, nevertheless, objected.

Jayalalithaa listened to religious music throughout her 75-day stay in the hospital and requested that pictures of her favourite gods and flora be put nearby. During the first few days of her hospitalisation, the former CM also spoke with government representatives and attended meetings about, among other things, the Cauvery river issue. She also made it a point to inform the hospital security that she would soon be released.

Sasikala mentioned in her statement that Jayalalithaa had been treated in a hospital ward on a few occasions before she had major health issues. One of Jayalalithaa’s assistants, according to Sasikala, loaded up a USB drive with the AIADMK leader’s favourite devotional tunes. She listened to them when she was unwell with various ailments. Near Jayalalithaa’s bed and on the walls around her were colour prints of the pictures of her favourite gods that she could see. To make the greenery ‘appealing for her eyes,’ artificial plants were placed next to Jayalalithaa’s chamber.

Jayalalithaa suggested that a doctor who was treating her read ‘Private Life of Chairman Mao.’ The doctor was recommended to study it by the previous chief minister, who also claimed that it would help him develop his leadership skills. China has outlawed the book, which explores the life of Mao Zedong, the leader of the People’s Republic of China.

In the months that followed, Jayalalithaa underwent a tracheostomy as she continued to have health issues. She begged the physicians to remove the feeding tube after 10 days after the treatment since it was excruciatingly painful. According to Sasikala, in accordance with Akka’s request, little portions of food from the Apollo Hospital’s kitchen, including idli, pongal, and vada, were distributed under medical supervision.

‘One of the medical professionals ordered me to yell ‘Akka’ near her ears. I immediately began to do so. She saw me two times. Akka then averted her gaze. Akka’s medical professionals informed me to leave right away since they believe she had a rapid heart attack’. In the report, Sasikala narrated Jayalalithaa’s dying seconds, ‘I shouted in extreme anxiety and fainted’. The AIADMK leader’s health setback on December 4 was the catalyst for the entire situation. On that particular day, Jayalalithaa began to shake when Sasikala attempted to take a food trolley next to her.

Akka screamed something while clenching her teeth, her tongue sticking out. When I began yelling, ‘Akka, Akka,’ she glanced at me and lifted both of her arms in my direction. I leaped and grabbed Akka as I yelled. Akka leaned on the bed, looking at me. Sasikala remembered that the medical professionals began providing hasty care. Sasikala fell ill after learning from a doctor that the AIADMK leader had experienced a heart attack. The late night of December 5, 2016, saw the passing of Jayalalithaa.


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