sasikala natarajan
[Representational Image]IANS

Tamil Nadu on Friday (February 24) observed late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's 69th birth anniversary amid its political turmoil. Both the warring factions of the AIADMK — the one of former CM O Panneerselvam and Sasikala Natarajan's loyalist and current CM Edapaddi Palanisamy — made plans to hold celebrations across the state on the occasion.

Palanisamy and AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa, who passed away last December after a prolonged illness, at the party's headquarters in the morning. The AIADMK also released a statement saying that presidium chairman KA Sengottaiyan would lead the celebrations in the state and also "release a souvenir on the occasion." Feasts would be organised and aid would be given to the poor. Jayalalithaa's portraits would also be decked with flowers and the common people would be given the opportunity to pay tributes to their beloved Amma.

"Huge posters, life-size cutouts, new welfare projects, elaborate functions and display of loyalty by the cadres of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have always marked 24 February, the birthday of the late Tamil Nadu chief minister," the statement said adding: "party will also organise a series of public meetings from February 24 to 28 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Jayalalithaa... Dinakaran, Palaniswami and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai will be among those addressing the meetings to be held across the state."

The statement further added: "Amma, who was instrumental for such growth of the party, is not among us today, but her guidance will be steering us."

The Panneerselvam camp also released a statement saying that the party's flag would be hoisted across Tamil Nadu and that the poor would be provided with free food on the occasion of Jayalalithaa's 69th birth anniversary.

AIADMK general secretary Sasikala, a long-time aide of Jayalalithaa and is currently in a jail in Bengaluru after getting convicted in a disproportionate assets case, penned an emotional letter on the occasion, saying: "I never thought this year will turn out to be so challenging... That Amma is not with us makes me more sad. After having celebrated her birthday with her for the past 33 years, I feel lonely this year in her memories. My thoughts revolve around her... Let the events held to mark Amma's 69th birth anniversary be done with the intention of upholding her fame and with the wish that Amma's government should deliver more pro-people initiatives and serve them."