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Hero worshipping bordering on madness in southern states

Death or suicide does not follow the demise of a leader in other parts of country. But in the southern state of Tamil Nadu it does. Three persons have died in the state and two attempted to commit suicide following the end of life of J. Jayalalithaa , head of the state, on Monday night.

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Published on 7 Dec 2016 11:39 AM GMT

Hero worshipping bordering on madness in southern states
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Chennai: Death or suicide does not follow the demise of a leader in other parts of country. But in the southern state of Tamil Nadu it does. Three persons have died in the state and two attempted to commit suicide following the end of life of J. Jayalalithaa , head of the state, on Monday night. The development was largely similar in the wake death of her mentor and three-time chief minister M .G. Ramachandran who is better known as MGR.

A couple of theories have been advanced in this regard. One of them is that most of the people in the state are film-crazy and hero- worshipers. They have greater emotional connect with the hero. In the background of events following death of these two film-actor-turned politicians, this theory appears to be more convincing.

For, the pattern was similar when death of MGR was announced. He had died much before her in the year 1987. But much does not seem to have changed in the intervening period in the state as far as emotional outburst is concerned, going by what happened after the demise of Jayalalithaa who has also acted in a Hindi film in which Dharmendra was a co-star.

Three persons are reported to have lost life after hearing about her death. Another person tried to commit suicide by jumping from a mobile tower and yet another made suicide bid by setting himself on fire. Her popular schemes like Amma canteen and Amma water which have been heavily subsidized could have also played some part.

Of course, worse tragedy was witnessed after MGR's death. As many as 30 persons had committed suicide in the wake of his death. Several others had shaved their heads in grief. As many as 29 other people had died during his funeral ceremony. Serving three terms as chief minister of the state, he had acted in many films.

The frenzied crowd had indulged in loot and rioting as soon as his death was announced. Public properties were mainly targeted which had even led to shoot-at-sight order by the administration.

Violent incidents had not taken place in the wake of recent death but there was a curfew-like situation in the city after report of heart attack was flashed in the media. Shops and other establishments were closed and thousands of people had rushed to the hospital where she was admitted.

Violence had also erupted in Karnataka in the wake of kidnapping and death of Kannada actor Rajkumar.

Another southern state which has been a witness to big hero-worshipping is Andhra. Film-artiste-politician N T Ramarao who was chief minister of the state for three terms had also commanded love and worship of a tall order. The actor had portrayed Hindu deities and formed Telugu Desam Party in 1982 which is now being headed by his son-in-law chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. His death did not, however, cause any death or damage, marking a change.

Also read: Get well soon: Superstar Dilip Kumar admitted in Hospital

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