It is a measure of the vacuum that late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa has left behind with her sudden demise that there is a crisis of leadership in the southern state. So strong was Jayalalithaa’s charisma and leadership qualities that no other leader from the AIADMK was even remotely able to measure up to those standards.
Jayalalithaa concentrated all power in her hands and did not groom a set of leaders who could assume the mantle. The glaring void in leadership has come to the fore with the Jallikattu crisis having hit the state. There is no leadership worth the name in running the state and there was no leader who led the movement for lifting the ban on Jallikattu, the bull taming sport which has existed for centuries.
When she was jailed on court orders she made sure that she appointed a successor who danced to her tune and had neither an independent base nor any merit to manage the show independently. That the agitation for restoration of Jallikattu was peaceful and orderly was a tribute to the inherent qualities of the people of Tamil Nadu who are peace-loving and simple.
The government of O. Panneerselvam had very little role in the management of the problem. The rival DMK thought it was an opportunity to fish in troubled waters but that is how it is under similar conditions in other states too. Jayalalithaa’s closest associate Sasikala who is being propped up by some as an alternative to Panneerselvam was clueless too.
That the protests turned violent on the sixth day with about 50 protesters and 30 policemen getting injured and a police station set on fire even as the State government brought an ordinance to meet the demands of agitators to lift the ban on Jallikattu, showed that those who were evicted included anti-social elements who got mixed in the crowd. More than ever before, there was a leadership crisis so blatantly manifest. One can only hope now that there would be durable peace in the metro and due leadership would be exercised.