The phantom of the opera
There is a sprite that enervates everything political, nay, let’s make that ‘literally everything’, in Tamil Nadu. It is quite possible, anecdotally, that more references are made to this spectre than any living person in the State. The most powerful single force in the State today, the mover of more than just the Ouija board, the spirit on everyone’s minds, goes by the moniker ‘Ammavin Aanma’, roughly translated as ‘Amma’s spirit’, where ‘Amma’ is none other than former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
While Dravidian parties tend to frequently hark back to their leaders long gone — Anna, Periyar, MGR — it is quite possible that Jayalalithaa, who followed all of them, is probably the most popular extra corporeal authority this side of the hemisphere, in current times. The spectre of Amma’s spirit hovers regally over a State in the throes of elections to Lok Sabha constituencies and bypolls, the latter caused primarily by internecine battles for succession after her death. There is scarcely an election campaign speech today that does not invoke her either as leader or sprite – both nonpareil.