Here's why Bharat Ratna for Jayalalithaa is an overrated demand

An award like Bharat Ratna deserves much more the love that people have for her

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will on Monday meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the extent of damage that Cyclone Vardah has caused in the state. However, that’s not just the agenda of the meeting. The Tamil Nadu CM will also be handing over a letter to the PM which demands India’s highest civilian honour – Bharat Ratna – to be conferred on the former chief of the AIADMK.

The award and the construction of a bronze statue of Jayalalithaa in Parliament are two of the demands put forth by the state Cabinet during a recently-held meeting in Chennai.

It seems that the adulation for her that lived during her lifetime, is accompanying her after her death too. But is a demand for Bharat Ratna for her justified?

Here are 4 reasons which prove that a demand for the highest civilian honour for the late AIADMK leader is an overrated one:

1) Cases against her: From being embroiled in corruption allegations to the disproportionate assets case against her, she does not have a clean record as a public figure. She was even imprisoned in the DA case and the charges against her were under scrutiny even at the time when she breathed her last.

2) Not a national leader: What Jayalalithaa did for the state cannot be forgotten but she was not a national leader. Even though she was termed an iron lady owing to the several schemes that she launched for the benefit of the women and children, her work did not have an impact on the national level.

3) Authoritarian: She is often criticised for the way she governed the party and the state. The divide between her and her party members was evident even in pictures. His followers were always seen with folded hands and bowed heads at a substantial distance from the late leader. She was the single voice of the party with no second hand, the effect of which can be seen now when her successor has to be chosen. Though her close aide Sasikala has taken over Jayalalithaa’s position in the party, the difference in the respect they enjoy is humungous.

Her intolerance towards criticism is evident from the fact that in her last term as the CM, she filed over 200 defamation cases against opponents and journalists, at times for just reporting against her.

4) Actors in the south are regarded as gods: It is not some hidden secret that actors in the south enjoy much love and recognition. She featured in nearly 140 films across 6 languages which included 92 Tamil films, 1 Malayalam, 1 English film, 28 Telugu films, 6 Kannada films and even one Hindi film. With over 100 box office hits, she was one of the highest paid actresses in India. For an actor of that stature, a following such as we see for her is not unprecedented.

The love that people shower on her is respect-worthy. No one is questioning whether she deserves the adulation that she is getting. But an award like Bharat Ratna deserves much more than this love.

In the recent past, there have been controversies over wherther the award is being politicised. Political parties often tend to have a backing for certain individuals which impacts the decision of who the award is being conferred on. While the AIADMK would want their late leader to have a Bharat Ratna written against her name, the decision should not be based on any political clout. The award which is the highest civilian honour of the country should be kept away from politics.