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J Jayalalithaa (Photo: Video grab)

Jayalalithaa, the ‘ringmaster’ of Tamil Nadu politics

WT24 Desk

Chennai: Fondly known as ‘Puratchi thalaivi’ by her followers, Jayalalithaa was born on February 24, 1948, at Melukote, in Mandya district, which was then a part of then in Mysore State, and was always destined for fame and greatness.

In May this year, she scripted history, by assuming office for the sixth time as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, embarking on a new chapter in her chequered political career spanning over three decades.

 A leader known for her grit and determination, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa proved her detractors wrong again when she steered AIADMK to power for a second consecutive term in the May 16 assembly polls.Though she had to quit twice over corruption cases, she managed to make a dramatic come back.

A peep into her political career beginning 1982 would show that she faced intense and protracted struggle to eventually head AIADMK, overcoming the animosity of rival camps led by the leaders including then Minister in the MG Ramachandran cabinet, RM Veerappan.

She successfully contested the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in 1989 from Bodinayakkanur and became the first woman Leader of the Opposition in the House. She led the unification of the party in 1990 which had split following the death of party founder MGR in 1987 and eventually captured power in 1991.

Since then, she has headed AIADMK governments for three separate tenures (1991-96, 2001-06, 2011-16). She also had to quit twice in the interim following court cases once in 2001 and later in 2014. For nearly six months, starting September 2001 she was out of office after being unseated by the Supreme Court vis-a-vis electoral disqualification in the TANSI case.

Between September 29, 2014 and May 22, 2015 she was out of office again after she was disqualified as a legislator and consequently lost chief ministership following her conviction in a graft case by a trial court in Bengaluru, which was later set aside by Karnataka High Court.

Altogether, she was sworn in as CM five times (1991-96, May-Sept 2001, 2002-06, 2011-14, and 2015-16. Known for her bold decision making, she had famously remarked after assuming office as Chief Minister for the second time that “I am a ringmaster” making things work by motivating government officials.

As a teen starlet, Jayalalithaa made her film debut in CV Sridhar-directed ‘Vennira Aadai’ (white dress) in 1965, and went on to become one of the most popular actress of that era. In 28 films, she was paired with matinee idol MGR who later became her political mentor and in 1982 inducted her into AIADMK which he founded.

She worked her way up in the party though factional leaders targeted her. She was appointed propaganda secretary in 1983. Hailed as ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (Revolutionary Leader), Jayalalithaa proved wrong all calculations of DMK retaining power in 2011 when she led her party to a fantastic victory by forming a rainbow coalition comprising DMDK and Left parties.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

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