Gold and Silver: What’s there in Jayalalithaa’s ‘Open’ House?
On 28 January, Tamil Nadu government unveiled Jayalalithaa’s ‘Veda Nilayam’ residence at Poes Garden as a memorial.
It was March 2016 and the sweltering heat was wasting us. Election was a few days away and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was eyeing to win over the Jayalalithaa-led All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
As we stood at the Poes Garden in Chennai, waiting to catch a glimpse of the leader, the night fell and all we saw were a line of cars zipping past us.
In a blur, one car stood out, with a light focused on Jayalalithaa sitting in the front seat and smiling at mediapersons gathered outside. This is the closest we've got to the leader and her residence.
Cut to 28 January 2021.
'Veda Nilayam,' the residence of the late AIADMK supremo was officially unveiled as a memorial-museum on Thursday. However, the wait to enter her revered residence will continue, thanks to a court order.
Riled in Controversy, not Open for Public
The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered that the opening ceremony of the residence can take place as scheduled for 28 January, but the building should not be open to the public.
Justice N Seshasayee passed an interim order on petitions filed by Deepak and Deepa, nephew and niece of the late AIADMK chief, who had sought a stay on the inauguration.
The 50-year-old residential property was taken over by the government after her demise and converted into a memorial.
Justice N Seshasayee said, “Once the function is over, the district collector, or an official who has the custody of the keys of the entire premises shall hand over the same to the registrar general of this court, since the valuable movables of Jayalalithaa to which the petitioners are now the heirs, must be valued.”
The main gate to the premises alone has been allowed to be opened during the function and the building shall not be opened at any time. Once the function is over, the keys of the premises shall be handed to the court Registrar General, as the valuable movable assets of the late Chief Minister have to be valued, the order said.
The court pointed out that the state government should have refrained from opening the memorial as petitions pertaining to the issue were pending disposal.
“Holding the function on 28 January will not in any way confer any right to the government, nor deprive the petitioners of their right in the subject matter of the writ petitions," the verdict read.
Justice Seshasayee has reserved adjudication on the challenge to 24 February, and instructed that no hoardings shall be placed and that the police ensure that no inconvenience is caused to those who live in the locality.
All That Is Inside Veda Nilayam
Although the court order has delayed the viewing of all the treasures inside the house, for the public and reporters like us, who’ve been staring at the massive gates from afar for years, the excitement is palpable.
As a reporter who has been working in Tamil Nadu for over five years, I, too, am eagerly looking forward to enter the forbidden kingdom of Amma, as she was fondly called.
Here is a list of properties in Veda Nilayam:
● Gold (14 items): 4 kg and 372 grams
● Silver (867 items): 601 kg and 424 grams
● Silver Items (Small Utensils): 162 items
● Televisions: 11
● Refrigerators: 10
● Air conditioners: 38
● Furniture (except kitchen racks): 556
● Kitchen utensils: 6,514
● Kitchen racks and furniture: 12
● Cutlery items (showcase): 1,055
● Pooja utensils: 15
● Dress materials, towels, bed sheets, other cloth items, pillow covers, curtains, footwear: 10,438
● Telephones and mobile phones: 29
● Kitchen electrical items: 221
● Electrical accessories: 251
● Books: 8,376
● Mementos: 394
● Documents like license, court documents and IT statements: 653
● Stationery items: 253
● Furnishing accessories: 1,712
● Carry cases (suit cases): 65
● Cosmetic items: 108
● Clocks: 6
● Canon xerox machine: 1
● Laser printer: 1
● Miscellaneous items: 959
● Total number of items: 32,721
This April-May, Tamil Nadu is looking at the first election, without political stalwarts like Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi and a lot of expectations are riding on the EPS-OPS government and MK Stalin-led AIADMK government.
Phoenix-Like Memorial for Amma
This comes a day after Jayalalithaa's memorial, shaped like a phoenix, with lions flanking either side of the structure, built at a cost of Rs 79.75 crore, was inaugurated. Thousands had gathered at Marina beach in Chennai on Wednesday to pay respects to their leader.
The inaugural coincided with the release of Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala from Bengaluru Parappana Agrahara Central Jail who completed her four-year prison sentence in the disproportionate assets case. She remains hospitalised for COVID-19 at the Victoria hospital in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
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