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Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, one of India's most charismatic political leaders, died here on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in deep grief. She was 68.
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Jayalalithaa, a spinster, breathed her last at the Apollo Hospitals just before midnight, over 24 hours after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.
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As Jayalalithaa's death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive.
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The body will be kept at the Rajaji Hall for people to pay their respects, said the AIADMK, which the actor-turned-politician headed for nearly three decades after the death of her mentor and Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran or MGR.
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As national leaders expressed grief, the Tamil Nadu government declared a seven-day mourning. Schools and colleges in the sprawling state will be closed for three days.