National News

Jayalalithaa’s health critical, AIADMK MLAs meet to sign statement on future leadership

Finance Minister O Panneerselvam was reportedly one of the names touted to be the chief minister's possible successor.

A day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest, legislators from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam met at Apollo Hospital 11:15 am for around 40 minutes. After the meeting, according to a senior party official who asked to remain unnamed, leaders were told to sign a statement offering support to two leaders from the party to prevent horse-trading in the future.

Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was one of the two names on the list, but the source was unsure of the other name, adding that it was between M Thambidurai, the AIADMK’s leader in the Lok Sabha, or state minister Edapadi K Palanisamy. Panneerselvam was given control of Jayalalithaa’s portfolios in October, weeks after she had been hospitalised in Chennai.

Apollo Hospital has announced that the AIADMK leader’s condition is “very critical”, and that she is on life support. “She is on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and other life support systems and is being closely monitored”, the spokesperson added. An ECMO is a technique of providing cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs are unable to provide ample exchange of gases to sustain life.

A team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences also reached Chennai on Monday to treat the chief minister. Jayalalithaa had suffered a cardiac arrest a day after her party had said she was well enough to return home.

Security was heightened at and around the Chennai hospital on Monday, as Jayalalithaa’s supporters crowded the area following news of her deteriorating health. The Tamil Nadu director general of police had asked the city’s police teams to be ready to patrol the streets from 7 am on Monday morning in full uniform and with their cars. Several schools in the city remained closed, paramilitary forces are on standby, and security arrangements were strengthened around Jayalalithaa’s home, as well.

Party spokesperson CR Saraswathi told NDTV on Monday morning, “There was an angio procedure this morning. Doctors say ‘don’t worry, Amma will be fine.’” The hospital, however, did not confirm whether Jayalalithaa had undergone any such surgery. Earlier, a specialist from London had been asked to fly down to examine her.

Political leaders, including President Pranab Mukherjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, sent out messages wishing her a speedy recovery.

Tamil Nadu Acting Governor C Vidyasagar Rao had visited the hospital late on Sunday. Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Rao, who assured him that there was no law and order crisis in the state. Union Health Minister JP Nadda said he was in constant contact with Apollo Hospitals and the Tamil Nadu government to inquire about Jayalalithaa’s condition, and that a team from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences had been sent to Chennai to assist with her treatment.

Moreover, a member of Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK died on Sunday after seeing news of her deteriorating heath on Sunday night. Nelagandan was an AIADMK cadre from Cuddalore district, ANI reported.

Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22 after complaining of fever and dehydration. The hospital said she was taken off respiratory on November 18 and moved from the ICU to a general ward on November 19. Her health has been the centre of a great deal of speculation, with the AIADMK and Apollo Hospital consistently putting out statements that her condition is improving, though Opposition parties have questioned this stance. Thousands of her followers have been praying for her recovery.

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