Chennai: The woman in white, running around giving instructions to the officers and workers at the Rajaji Hall and later at the Marina, to ensure the smooth conduct of the last rites of former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, attracted huge attention during the event and even more admiration on social media later for the manner in which she had handled the delicate job.
But then, hard work and efficiency have not been new for P. Amudha, IAS, presently the Commissioner for Food Safety. What stood out at this particular assignment was the manner in which she handled the Kalaignar family in a very understanding and sensitive manner—reaching out to touch his daughter Kanimozhi at the Rajaji Hall while discussing a point and later mingling with the anguished family and stand close to Stalin as the casket was about to be lowered.
There was not just a stiff bureaucrat discharging her duty; there was a woman just as much anguished as the rest of the people gathered there, particularly the sobbing family. She could not sob like them, though; but the pain was evident on the face.
Earlier in the day, the Madras High Court had redeemed the crumpled morale of the DMK’s First Family and the rest of the party from the shock of the Marina rejection by the government. Just after that, it was Amudha with her sensitive handling of the last rites who tried hard to heal, at least to some extent, that bitterness from the regime.
When media persons spoke to her later, she said she had been informed of her task only at about eight in the morning and waited for the court verdict to start the work at Marina, because the venue was not certain until then. The final instructions on the site allocation came around 10.30 a.m. and after that it was the woman in white, in full flow.
Since the place was small and a large crowd, even of VIPs, was expected, she had to tread carefully in order to avoid stepping on toes already bruised. She briefed DMK legislators E V Velu and Sekar Babu on the protocol issues—since it was a State funeral and the military was involved—and spoke to family. “They all cooperated, understood”, she said.