Jaya fights grim battle for life

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today continued to wage a grim battle for life after suffering a cardiac arrest yesterday with the state capital observing a near shutdown as concerns mounted over her condition, which was termed by doctors as “extremely grave”.

High drama marked the day when some television channels reported that she was no more which was hotly denied by the Apollo Hospitals that said a team of its doctors and those from AIIMS was continuously monitoring the health of Jayalalithaa.

It denied as “totally baseless and false” reports that she had passed away. During the day the hospital said her condition was “very critical” and remained “grave”, while the British doctor Richard Beale, who had been consulted, said she was “extremely grave”.

Behind the scene political manoeuvering was also reportedly on to consider possible strategies on who could lead the party and the government in case the worst happens.

The MLAs and top leaders met informally in the hospital in the morning and were later called to the party headquarters for further consultations. Party sources, however, said the second meeting was postponed but gave no indications about when they would meet again.

Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, who had on two earlier occasions stood in for Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister when she was convicted in two corruption cases, figured as a possible successor. Panneerselvam, left the hospital late in the night and reached the party headquarters where MLAs were in a huddle.

Earlier in the day, even as the MLAs were trooping into the party headquarters, the wrong reports about her health forced their partymen to lower the AIADMK flag. The flag was rehoisted after the hospital issued the denial.

Crowds of party workers and supporters kept thronging the gates of the Apollo Hospitals and went berserk briefly when the channels reported that she was no more. Police had a tough time keeping them under control.

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who visited the hospital, briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on her condition.