Tamil Nadu

Amma-worship, Modi-fied

It was a Modi-fied sight at the Prime Minister’s election meeting in Theni on Saturday. Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam’s son P Raveendranath Kumar was the first off the block. He prostrated before Narendra Modi, even as the PM, taken by surprise, requested him not to do so. That opened the floodgates as more AIADMK leaders, for long used to doing the same before the late J Jayalalithaa, reached out for Modi’s feet.

Modi should not have been surprised. Tamil Nadu Dairy Development minister Rajendra Balaji in March, had given an indication of things to come when he said that with Amma no more, Modi is the “Daddy” for the AIADMK.

Falling at Jayalalithaa’s feet was pretty much part of the AIADMK ethos. The party defended it saying it conveyed immense respect and affection the rank and file had for her. Jayalalithaa herself did not make any attempt to dissuade her colleagues and cadre from doing so either. Look at this video soon after Jayalalithaa came back to power for a second consecutive term in May 2016.

This video of O Pannerselvam prostrating even before Jayalalithaa’s car gave an indication of the equation the AIADMK supremo shared with her senior colleagues in the party. (See video at 1:35 min)

But falling at the feet of the leader did not always mean respect and loyalty for a lifetime. What better example to show this than this clip of Edappadi Palaniswami prostrating before VK Sasikala after she announced his name as chief minister in February 2017, calling him her “brother”. A few weeks later, EPS was to declare her as a corrupt person and persona non grata for the AIADMK.

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