I have a (conspiracy?) theory that Jayalalithaa passed away in the afternoon of December 5 itself. According to me, they delayed the news so as to ensure that the state gets enough time to absorb what was going on. Had the breaking news been sudden and straightforward, hooliganism would have raised its ugly head. The media was full of trepidation and justifiably too given the stature JJ enjoyed in her state. I received a message, a few minutes after lunch, from a well-placed friend asking me whether i can translate a condolence message into Tamil for him. Given my admiration for Tamil, he assumed i must be well-versed in the language. I am not. It was obvious that she’d have passed away although media was playing cat-and-mouse with Apollo hospital. Maybe the people-behind-the-walls must have controlled the flow of info in this fashion: leak in the afternoon that Amma is very critical, followed by another leak suggesting she might have passed away only to deny it early evening, followed by a clarification by Apollo saying she was on life support system and finally make an official announcement at night that she has indeed departed. This yo-yo technique of uncertainty must have contributed to the orderliness that followed, leaving little space for chaos. Of course, the credit largely goes to the law enforcement agencies in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. But the maturity with which the communication was handled deserves a relook though there was an element of necessary deception. Maybe it’s a sign of the change in politics. The days of flaming emotions are numbered. Those types of nostalgic exhibits used to make it to the front page but the losses registered in damages to public/private properties ran into crores. And a ruling party can do well without such fanaticfare.
Something similar happened but at a city-level when i was with mid-day. Rumours started spreading that Balasaheb had passed away on Friday. The official statement was made on Saturday. This delaying of news ensured minimum disorderliness in the city. The procession of departure was exemplary with minimum ruckus.
This pattern also shows how the source of madness in Indian politics often emanate from the politicians themselves. No matter how much the laity loves a political figure, the majority don't engage in over-the-top expressions of grief. That job is executed by thugs employed by politicians. They are the ones who burn the buses and cars on roads in times of unrest. Common people, irrespective of whichever state they belong to, stand (and drop dead) in the queue. They seldom burn an ATM.