A temple dedicated to late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and her mentor MG Ramachandran in Madurai will be inaugurated by Chief Minister E Palaniswami on Saturday. The event comes just months ahead of the assembly election, the first after the AIADMK chief’s death in 2016.
The temple — which was commissioned by the state Revenue Minister RB Udhayakumar whom Ms Jayalalithaa had first inducted into the cabinet — has been constructed on a one-and-a-half-acre plot near the city’s T Kallupatti area at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. It contains bronze statues of the two leaders.
“We call our Amma (J Jayalalithaa) with different names of Goddesses like ‘Idhaya Theivam (Goddess of Hearts), Kaval Theivam (Guardian Goddess) and Kulasamy (Goddess of our Tribe), and this temple only formalises that. We have enough space around the temple for people to come and worship,” the minister said.
Asked if the temple had been built to garner people’s sympathy in view of the upcoming election, the minister said, “Both MGR and Jayalalithaa have sacrificed a lot and we regard them as God and Goddess”.
J Jayalalithaa, the former chief minister, had had a considerable clout in the state and her party, AIADMK. MLAs and ministers used to prostrate before her. Some of them would even worship her helicopter with hands folded and footwear removed.
A lower court had convicted the four-time chief minister in the disproportionate assets case, but the high court acquitted her later. However, she died before the Supreme Court ultimately upheld the conviction in 2017, and sent three others, including her friend VK Sasikala, to four years in jail.
Ms Sasikala was released last week from jail after four years. Political observers say she could make a dent in AIADMK’s vote bank as she belongs to the powerful Thevar community.
The party, which was decimated in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, is desperately trying to revive Ms Jayalalithaa’s legacy to win the upcoming assembly elections. Earlier this week, the Chief Minister inaugurated a Rs 79-crore phoenix-shaped memorial for the leader. The state government has also turned her Poes Garden residence into a memorial.