President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu and other leaders paid last respects to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Jayalalithaa who passed away on Monday night.
Mukherjee placed a wreath near the casket containing the body of Jayalalithaa at the Rajaji Hall in Chennai.
The President and the prime minister were accompanied by Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao.
Flanked by Governor Rao, Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishnan and others, Modi placed a wreath on the body which was lying in state at Rajaji Hall.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hugged Modi emotionally on a couple of occasions as the PM approached the casket containing Jayalalithaa’s body to pay his last respects.
The atmosphere was surcharged as Modi, amid tight security, walked into Rajaji Hall, where the AIADMK supremo’s body is lying in state.
Clad in white, an emotional Modi, who enjoyed a good personal equation with the late All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader, also consoled Jayalalithaa's close confidante Sasikala, who was crying.
As he walked towards Panneerselvam after placing a wreath near the body, the latter broke down and hugged him. Modi affectionately patted him, suggesting that he be strong.
As Modi walked back to his vehicle, Panneerselvam again hugged him with tears in his eyes.
Even at that time, Panneerselvam again broke down and the PM hugged him, asking him to control his emotions.
Paying rich tributes to Jayalalithaa, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said she was not only a great leader of Tamil Nadu, but also of the country.
“I would like to offer my condolences to the people of Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa ji was a great leader. She was not only a great leader of Tamil Nadu, she was a leader of this country,” he said, after placing a wreath on her body minutes before it was taken from Rajaji Hall to MGR Memorial hall.
“I, on behalf of the Congress and party president (Sonia Gandhi) and every single Congress worker in this country, pay our respects to a great lady, to a great leader of Tamil Nadu,” he said.
Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasar also paid their respects to Jayalalithaa.
Those who paid homage to the late leader at Rajaji Hall, included Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Governor P Sathasivam and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.
A host of film personalities, including superstar Rajinikanth, actors Sarath Kumar, Sivakarthikeyan, Dhanush, actress Gauthami, besides veteran artistes who had worked with Jayalalithaa decades ago, also paid their last respects.
Visiting Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also paid his last respects.
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