Social Media Politics

As rumours swirl about Jayalalithaa's health, social media users hit out against rumour-mongering

An astrologer said that the Tamil Nadu chief minister's health was affected because of the position of Jupiter.

It has been almost two weeks since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospital at Greams Road, Chennai, for what the initial press release from the hospital claimed was fever and dehydration. Ever since, the chief minister’s health has been subject to countless rumours, speculation and even fake pictures spread through social media, especially on WhatsApp.

Although the hospital has been regularly releasing statements about the chief minister’s health, each successive press release has only added to the ambiguity. Besides the police – which are cracking down on social media users spreading false information about the chief minister’s health – social media users too are hitting out at the rumour-mongering.

According to The News Minute, nobody is allowed to visit Jayalalithaa at the hospital except her aide Sasikala Natarajan. With high security around the hospital and restricted entry, no information has filtered out.

On WhatsApp groups, however, it seems like everybody has "insider information", a sentiment that probably gave rise to this meme where Rajnikanth asks suspiciously – How many more of your relatives, are you going to tell me, work in Apollo Hospital?

Prayers and prophecies

It is not just social media users getting creative. The local media has been looking into the chief minister's horoscope, with some outlets such as Thanthi TV and Deccan Chronicle carrying interviews with astrologers to predict the course of Jayalalitha's illness.

In this interview, astrologer Sivalpuri Singaram predicted that Jayalalithaa's health will improve after October 10. He said that till then, Jupiter is in a position that is likely to trouble her health slightly.

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Meanwhile, supporters of Jayalalithaa belonging to different faiths continue to gather outside Apollo Hospital. Over the past two weeks, many pujas have been conducted outside the hospital gate, and coconuts and pumpkins smashed for the chief minister's speedy recovery.

Now, there is fresh news for social media chatter.

On Friday, Rahul Gandhi arrived at Apollo hospital to pay the Tamil Nadu chief minister a visit. After the meeting, his Twitter handle @OfficeofRG said, "I want to give #Jayalalithaa ji maximum energy so that she gets well soon." Of course, Twitter users could not let this pass without comment.

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