A supporter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa committed suicide in Tirupur district on Thursday allegedly over reports of the leader's deteriorating health. The 70-year-old All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam worker, Vellayappan, died in a government hospital in Coimbatore on Friday after consuming poison the previous day, PTI reported.
Officials said Vellayappan consumed poison after reading news reports about the chief minister's health. He was admitted to a local government hospital before being taken to Coimbatore. Vellayappan was the AIADMK's former town secretary in Tirupur.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Chennai's Apollo Hospital for dehydration and fever on September 22. On Thursday, Rajathi Ammal, wife of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi, visited the hospital in an attempt to meet the AIADMK leader. Reports said she met the chief minister's close aide Sasikala Natarajan and spoke to her for close to an hour.
Apollo Hospital has released a number of statements over the last few weeks, saying Jayalalithaa is making gradual progress and is being constantly monitored by "intensivists and other consultants in the expert panel". It has also said she is on respiratory support. On October 11, acting Governor C Vidyasagar Rao reallocated her portfolios to state Finance Minister O Panneerselvam.
At least four people have been arrested for "spreading rumours" about the AIADMK leader's health. More than 50 cases have been registered against people for spreading similar rumours. On October 10, the AIADMK had launched a social media campaign, urging supporters to help end speculation over the chief minister's condition. The party has asked supporters to use the campaign's image as their profile picture and use the hashtags #MyCMIsFine and #NoMoreRumours.
The chief minister's health has been a major concern for the state, even though the party has maintained that she is recovering. Mass prayer sessions, seeking divine intervention for the chief minister's speedy recovery, are being held across Tamil Nadu. Her illness comes as the state is embroiled in the Cauvery water-sharing dispute with Karnataka.