How Chennai boy Prakash Karat made Jayalalithaa feel better

Chennai, Dec 07: Politics brought them together and pulled them apart more than once in the 34 years Jayalalithaa walked the political firmament. But for Chennai boy turned Marxist Prakash Karat, she remains essentially a batch-mate of sorts.

Both are of the same vintage, having been born in February 1948. She was 17 days his junior. They went to different Chennai schools but both passed out the same year.

“I knew of her as a film star and then saw her emerge as a politician,” Karat recalled on Tuesday, with no hard feelings towards Jayalalithaa who had walked out on the AIADMK-CPM alliance ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Back from an overseas visit on Tuesday afternoon, Karat penned a few paragraphs in memory of his batch-mate:

The image of Jayalalithaa that is lasting is of a woman who fought against great odds and established herself as an unquestioned mass leader in Tamil Nadu. As an outsider, she had to fight to establish her political position both during MGR’s lifetime and after his death.

I came to know her in the years 2008 to 2014. In this period, the CPI(M) had an electoral understanding twice for the Lok Sabha elections and once for the Assembly polls.

As the general secretary of the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK), she would insist that talks be held at the level of general secretaries to arrive at an understanding.

It was relatively easy to discuss with her political matters and come to an understanding as she was clear about her position on various issues. She was an intelligent politician and, at the same time, strong-willed.

She could be charming when she wished to and be stern when displeased. The last time when I met her in early 2014, she displayed both these in her characteristic style. Firstly, she strongly disapproved of our party in Tamil Nadu making critical comments about some decisions of her government.

After discussing other issues, she ended up by saying she was unwell and had thought of cancelling the meeting with me. But then she said: “You would have been angry.”

So she decided to come for the meeting. She concluded by saying: “Having met you, I feel better now.”