Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa died on Monday, after she suffered a cardiac arrest. She was 68. The leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, known to many as Amma, was an iconic politician and former film star who will go down in history as one of the most socially progressive politicians, while also being a woman who ruled the state with an iron hand.
Jayalalithaa and K Karunanidhi, her rival and the leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, have traded the chief ministerial post in Tamil Nadu for the last few decades. Her death brings an era of Dravidian politics closer to an end, especially with Karunanidhi himself unwell at 93. Newspapers based in Tamil Nadu marked Jayalalithaa’s death with headlines that sought to convey just how much the former chief minister meant to her people.
Here Dinamalar, one of Tamil Nadu’s main newspapers, leads with “Eternal Amma”, saying the AIADMK’s sun has set. Within, the papers also sought to look at her long career and the impact Jayalalithaa had on welfare.
But even outside the state, papers chose to put the chief minister’s death on the front page. The Telegraph, based in Kolkata, said it was the “iron butterfly’s last flap”, while the Mumbai Mirror went with “Amma dead, millions orphaned.”
And the coverage wasn’t just limited to the English papers. The Hindi Dainik Jagran led with “Jayalalithaa no more.”
Meanwhile, coverage of Jayalalithaa’s death internationally seemed to either focus on her past as a film star – with the Financial Times mistakenly calling her a “Bollywood actress” – or her reputation for being authoritarian.