Jayalalitha became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the third time in May 2011. The former popular Tamil film star has had a rollercoaster journey in Indian politics. Starting as a political disciple of the late MG Ramachandran, she rose to head the AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and finally became the Chief Minister of the state.
She contested the State Legislative Assembly elections from Srirangam in May 2011.
Born on 24 February, 1948 at Melukote, in Pandavapura taluka, Mandya district, then in Mysore State, Jayalalitha was educated at Bishop Cotton School at Bangalore and Presentation Convent at Chennai. Inducted into films at fifteen years of age, by her actress mother Sandhya, Jayalalitha chose not to study further than a matriculation. She was later conferred an honorary degree of D Litt (Doctorate) by the Madras University.
A trained classical dancer, Jayalaitha was a popular lead actor in Tamil and Telugu movies in the sixties and seventies before she joined politics. She is also a trained Carnatic music singer and a writer with several published short stories and novels. The articulate Chief Minister is fluent in English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam.
She was mentored by MG Ramachandran, himself a popular former Tamil actor and director and her co-star of many films, and entered politics in 1982. She became a member of the AIADMK; a party founded by MGR in 1977, and was chosen as its propaganda secretary. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1984 and remained a member of the parliament till 1989.
MG Ramachandran fell ill in 1984 and Jayalalitha assumed control of the party. AIADMK was successful in the Lok Sabha as well as the Legislative Assembly elections and these victories made it easier for her to head the breakaway faction of the AIADMK after MG Ramachandran’s death in 1987 and proclaim herself his political heir. She was now the elected General Secretary of the party and won her maiden Legislative Assembly election in 1989 from Bodinayakkanur. AIADMK was not able to form the government but Jayalalitha became the first woman leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
She forged an alliance with the Congress party and won the Assembly elections in 1991 from two constituencies-Bargur and Kangeyam. The alliance won in 225 out 234 constituencies and Jayalalitha became the Chief Minister for the first time. She was the first elected woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and lasted the full term till 1996.
In 1996 she lost the Assembly elections, faced charges of corruption, and was severely criticized for spending on a lavish wedding ceremony of her foster son. In 2002, she was however acquitted of all charges by the Madras High Court.
She came back to power in 2002 and was elected from Andipatti constituency. She then served her second term as Chief Minister till 2006. She was re-elected to the legislative Assembly in 2006 from Andipatti.
In 2011, AIADMK was again voted to power and Jayalalitha became the Chief Minister in May 2011.
On 23 May 2015, she held the office and was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time. For some time she was out of office, but was re-elected in 2016 as the Chief Minister of the state. With a margin of 39,545 votes over her DMK rival, she retained the R. K. Nagar constituency.
Jayalalitha was admitted to Apollo Hospitals, Greame’s Road, Chennai, on 22 September, 2016 due to infection and acute dehydration. She was under treatment for 70 days. Her condition slowly improved and on 4 December 2016 Doctors said she can be taken to home whenever she wants. Unfortunately, on the same day she suffered a cardiac arrest at around 4.45 PM and was re-admitted to CCU. Doctors said she was in a critical condition and later in the evening she passed away.
- Kalaimamani Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1972
- Award from the University of Madras in 1991
- Several honourary doctorates