Jayalalithaa Jayaram: India’s “iron lady” politician and Tamil Nadu’s ‘Amma’


Jayalalithaa Jayaram, who had appeared as a lead actress in several Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films was a six-time chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. She was an Indian actress-turned-politician, who became the General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party. She was one of the most powerful female leaders of the country and the second female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and was fondly called “Amma” by her followers.

She died in her office on December 5, 2016, at the age of 68 years after suffering from a major cardiac arrest. The amount of love she gave to the people of Tamil Naidu and received from them is immense.

Brief of Her Early Life, Film Career & Achievements

  • Jayalalithaa was born on February 24, 1948 at Melukote in Mysore, Karnataka to a Tamil Iyengar family.
  • She completed her schooling from the Bishop Cotton Girls’ High School and Sacred Heart Matriculation School, in Chennai.
  • After completing matriculation at the age of 15 years she took up films and her career saw her working in many films of different languages, including Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, and English.
  • ‘Epistle’, an English language film, was her first film, which was released in the year 1961.
  • She made her Kannada debut as a lead actress in the film ‘Chinnada Gombe’ in 1964, under the direction of B.R. Panthulu.
  • In 1965, she made her debut in Tamil film ‘Vennira Aadai’, and made her debut in the Telugu film ‘Manushulu Mamathalu’ in the year 1966.
  • She also acted in Hindi films, ‘Izzat’ is one of her remarkable Hindi films of her.
    She was a skilled Bharatanatyam dancer and had proficiency in other dance forms like Kathak and Manipuri.
  • In 1972, she received the Kalaimamani Award from the Government of Tamil Nadu

Brief of Amma’s journey in politics

  • Jayalalitha became a member of the AIADMK, a party founded by M.G. Ramachandran, in the year 1982. This move marked her entry into Indian politics.
  • She became the Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK party in January 1983. In 1984, she was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha for the first time and she retained her Rajya Sabha seat till 1989.
  • Puratchi Thalaivar M.G.R., also known as MGR, who served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a record ten years from 1977 to 1987, expired in 1987. After this which the AIADMK party turned into two different parties, and the election symbol of the party, “Two Leaves”, was also frozen by the Election Commission of India.
  • In 1989, Jayalalitha was elected as a member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from the Bodinayakkanur constituency, a state assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu.
  • In February 1989 under the leadership of Jayalalitha, the two fragments of the AIADMK party reunited, along with the restoration of the party’s election symbol ‘Two Leaves’.
  • On June 24, 1991, she became the second female and youngest ever Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. She held the position till May 12, 1996. She remained Chief Minister of the state from 2001 to 2014.
  • In September 2014, she had to step down from her position of the Tamil Naidu Chief Minister, after she was held guilty by a Karnataka trial court in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case. The trial court sentenced her to a four-year prison with a fine of Rupees 100 crore, but she did not sit back and challenged the court’s verdict in Karnataka High Court.
  • On May 11, 2015, she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in the Disproportionate Assets case and on May 23, 2015 she became the Chief Minister of the state for fifth time and sworn-in as Chief Minister of the state for a record sixth time in May 2016.

Amma introduced many services and products to help the economically weaker sections of society, such as ‘Amma Canteens, ‘Amma pharmacies’, ‘Amma Seeds’, ‘Amma Salt’ etc., which won the heart of economically weaker sections of the state. She was a powerful support and voice for the economically weaker sections of the society. She will always be loved and remembered as a people-friendly, strong, charismatic, bold and efficient leader and lady.

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