Chennai, Dec 22: 2016 ended as a year of grief for people of Tamil Nadu who lost their popular leader J Jayalalithaa, who had only seven months ago led her party to a comprehensive successive second victory in the Assembly polls.
Cyclone Vardah hitting hard and a series of protests and sporadic violence on the Cauvery issue stretching over a month were among the other key events that the state witnessed this year. As the ruling AIADMK is trying to find its feet in both party affairs and governance with the passing away of Jayalalithaa, main Opposition DMK is on a wait-and-watch mode though it continues to take up key issues like Cauvery and Jallikattu to keep the political pot boiling.
DMK treasurer M K Stalin became the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly for the first time, and his party won 89 seats. Cyclone Vardah hit the state was like deja vu, reminding the sufferings of 2015's heavy rains during the corresponding period. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release Rs 22,573 crore as cyclone aid.
Jayalalithaa swung into action from day one after being sworn in May as chief minister for the sixth time by implementing a slew of measures. Waiver of crop loans for farmers, increase in gold allocation for women beneficiaries and closure of 500 Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor outlets were among the measures aimed at fulfilling her electoral promises.
Ever since Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation on September 22, till her passing away on December 5, the state remained on tenterhooks with medical bulletins appearing on and off on her health status. Mass prayers in places of worship across Tamil Nadu by AIADMK workers and supporters became a regular feature. The entrance area to Apollo Hospital where she underwent treatment became a makeshift prayer ground and across the state, milk pot prayer processions and tonsuring of head by partymen were often seen.
For DMK workers, repeated hospitalisation of its nonagenarian leader Karunanidhi due to illness caused anxiety though he is now on the path of recovery, according to Kauvery Hospital where he is getting treated.
With the passing away of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK leaders wanted her aide V K Sasikala to lead the party, with more functionaries voicing their support to her to ascend the seat of governance as chief minister as well.
Though Tamil Nadu's legal battle to get Cauvery waters for standing crops continues, the issue witnessed a series of heightened protests and sporadic violence in the state during September and October.
Such protests, spanning several weeks, had an adverse impact on the common people especially in the districts bordering Karnataka including Krishnagiri. A bandh supported by farmers outfits and opposition parties was held and a cadre belonging to Nam Thamizhar Katchi died after setting himself ablaze.