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Jayaram Jayalalitha
(February 24, 1948 - December 5, 2016)

In a land chockfull of colorful political characters, Jayaram Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu stands out.

Early Years

Born in Mysore on February 24, 1948, Jayalalitha entered the movie world as an actress at an early age.

Jayalalitha's early education was at the elite Bishop Cotton Girls High School in Bangalore and later at the Presentation Convent Church Park in Chennai. Upon completion of Matriculation in 1964, she won a scholarship for higher studies but did not accept it to pursue a career in films.

Jayalalitha has acted in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam films. She was trained in classical dance (Bharata Natyam) and Carnatic Music from the young age of 4. She is said to be proficient in other dance-forms such as Mohini Attam, Kathak and Manipuri as well. Jayalalitha has given hundreds of performances in Bharatha Natyam and has even sung many songs herself in her films (songs are a staple of Indian films).

Political Debut

Jayalalitha's entry into politics was facilitated by her close companionship with M.G.Ramachandran, the late film star, leader of the AIADMK party and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalitha became Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha from 1984 and kept the seat until her election to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in January 1989 from the Bodinayakkanur constituency. She became the first Woman Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalitha contested from both Bargur and Kangeyam constituencies during the general elections to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1991 and won in both places but subsequently resigned the Kangeyam Assembly seat.

Jayalalitha was elected from Andipatti Assembly constituency in February 2002.

Jayalalitha's present tenure is her third term as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She was Chief Minister from 24-06-1991 to 12-05-1996, from 14-05-2001 to 21-09-2001and from 02-03-2002.

The vicissitudes of political life was brought home sharply to Jayalalitha when she suffered a crushing defeat in the April-May 1996 elections amid charges of corruption and malfeasance. Her party won just four of the 234 seats.

However, Jayalalitha bounced back to power in the 2001 elections.

Corruption

Like several politicians, Jayalalitha's rule has been marred by charges of corruption. She has been charged with possession of assets beyond her known sources of income. The lavish wedding of her foster son has also drawn strong criticism. Jayalalitha has dismissed the legal charges against her as politically motivated. After her defeat in 1996, the Karunanidhi government arrested her in December 1996 on charges of corruption and Jayalalitha spent a few weeks in jail till her release in early January 1997.

2006 Elections

In the May 2006 Legislative assembly elections Jayalalitha's AIADMK suffered a defeat at the hands of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance although she herself managed to get elected. On May 11, 2006 as the poll results trend started becoming clear, Jayalalitha submitted her resignation to the state Governor S.S.Barnala. In a statement following her party's defeat, she said, "I have done my best to the people of Tamil Nadu and worked hard to the limits of my capacity as Chief Minister for the progress and growth of the state."

A doughty fighter, Jayalalitha has had to face significant challenges in her life. Her principal opponent Karunanidhi is a shrewd politician with several decades of expeience. In the immediate aftermath of her mentor MGR's death, she was humiliated and even physically assaulted by people close to MGR's wife Janaki.

Jayalalitha is reportedly proficient in English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi and is said to be a catholic reader.

Jayalalitha is unmarried.

2011 Elections

Jayalalitha made a remarkable come back in the 2011 Legislative Elections with a resounding victory over the DMK and Congress alliance. Fed up with the corruption and violation orchestrated by the DMK, the people of Tamil Nadu rose to the occasion and voted in large numbers for Jayalalitha's AIADMK party.

Untimely Death

Jayalalitha managed to retain power as AIADMK won 134 seats during 2016 assembly elections.

But the 2016 election victory was shortlived for Ms. Jayaram Jayalalithaa personally as she suffered a heart attack and died on December 5, 2016.

Jayalalithaa Related Stories

  • Tamil Nadu Election Results - DMK Heading for Massive Defeat; End of Karunanidhi Era
  • Profile of M.G.Ramachandran
  • Profiles of Other Indian Politicians
    C.N. Annadurai
    Biju Patnaik
    Indira Gandhi
    Jayalalitha
    Jayaprakash Narayan
    Kamaraj
    M. Karunanidhi
    Laloo Prasad Yadav
    Mayawati
    Narendra Modi
    Nitish Kumar
    Rahul Gandhi
    Rajiv Gandhi
    M.G. Ramachandran
    Sanjay Gandhi
    M.K. Stalin

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