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Fans of Indian politician get tattoos for her birthday

24 February 2016, 16:06

Chennai - Supporters of controversial Indian politician Jayalalithaa Jayaram queued up on Wednesday to get tattoos of the hugely popular leader to mark her 68th birthday.

Special prayers were also offered at temples in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and phone lines were set up by her party so fans could send in their best wishes.

A former movie star known as "Amma" (Mother), Jayalalithaa has long enjoyed a cult following in prosperous Tamil Nadu where she has won three terms as chief minister since 1991.

Birthday wishes poured in for Jayalalithaa, who faces a state election this year, including from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"May Almighty bless her with a long life, filled with good health," the premier tweeted.

Suppporter V. Kanniga, from the state capital Chennai, said she decided to have Jayalalithaa's face tattooed on her arm to show devotion to the leader.

"It was painful but now I am happy," the 54-year-old said, adding that her husband also has one. "I can show my forearm proudly to the party functionaries and my relatives," she said, at a special tattoo stall set up by Jayalalithaa's party.

Tattoo artist V. Chandankumar said most people preferred to ink their arms, but some asked for her face on their chests and backs.

Mass weddings have also been taking place, with brides and grooms wearing armbands with her photo, according to the CNN-IBN TV news website.

Jayalalithaa has earned the loyalty of her supporters with a series of populist schemes over the years, including giving away gold, goats and kitchen appliances at election time.

But she has also drawn accusations of corruption and an autocratic governing style. She returned as chief minister last year after being cleared of illegally amassing wealth while in office.

Her party is the third largest in the national parliament.



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