CHENNAI: M. Natarajan, who began as a DMK youth front leader and later got close to late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa along with his wife V.K. Sasikala, died on Tuesday at a private hospital here. He was 74.
According to a statement issued by the Gleneagles Global Health City, Natarajan died at 1.35 a.m.
"Every possible clinical attempt was made to sustain his revival. However, despite our best efforts he was unable to recover," the statement said.
Ailing for some time, Natarajan was hospitalized on March 16 for chest infection and was on ventilator support. Late last year, he underwent a dual-organ operation. The body would be taken to his village in Thanjavur district for the last rites.
Natarajan's political career started with the DMK in its youth wing. Later, he joined the Tamil Nadu government's Public Relations Department. An enterprising official, he and his wife got close to Jayalalithaa through a video distribution business the couple ran in Chennai.
DMK President M. Karunanidhi presided over the Natarajan-Sasikala marriage.
In the 1980s, when Natarajan was the public relations officer in Cuddalore district, Sasikala got a contract to film Jayalalithaa's programmes. At that time Jayalalithaa was the Propaganda Secretary for the AIADMK.
Later, the couple gained the confidence of Jayalalithaa. Jayalalithaa declared Sasiskala her sister. However, Jayalalithaa kept Natarajan out of her Poes Garden residence where Sasikala also lived.
Natarajan was also the editor of Tamil magazine "Puthiya Parvai" and was a strong supporter of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
On Tuesday, DMK leader M.K. Stalin paid his respects to Natarajan at his residence and said his death was shocking. He said Natarajan had deep affection for the Dravidian movement.
MDMK leader Vaiko said Natarajan was a staunch opponent of Hindi imposition and had taken part in the anti-Hindi agitation in 1965.
Meanwhile, Sasikala, the now sidelined AIADMK leader, on Tuesday afternoon got a 15-day parole and left for Thanjavur to attend Natarajan's last rites.
"She has been granted parole for 15 days. During the period, she has been directed to limit her visit to Thanjavur and not to take part in any political activity," Bengaluru Central Jail Chief Superintendent M. Somashekar told IANS.
Sasikala, 60, left from the central prison in a private car. She had reportedly collapsed in the prison on hearing the news of her husband's death.
Natarajan's death made the Prison Department grant the parole a week after Sasikala's similar plea was rejected when he (Natarajan) was admitted to a Chennai hospital for treatment.
Sasikala was last granted a parole for five days from October 6-12 to meet her husband who had then undergone a liver and kidney transplant in Chennai.
Sasikala is currently serving a four-year sentence since February 15 last year after the Supreme Court upheld her conviction in a corruption case.