Jayaram Jayalalithaa[a] (born Komalavalli, 24 February 1948 – 5
December 2016) was an Indian actress and politician who served six
terms as the
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years
between 1991 and 2016.
Jayalalithaa first came into prominence as a leading film actress in
the mid-1960s. Though she had entered the profession reluctantly, upon
the urging of her mother to support the family,
prolifically. She appeared in 140 films between 1961 and 1980,
primarily in the Tamil, Telugu and
Kannada languages. Jayalalithaa
received praise for her versatility as an actor and for her dancing
skills, earning the sobriquet "queen of Tamil cinema". Among her
frequent co-stars was M. G. Ramachandran, or MGR, a Tamil cultural
icon who leveraged his immense popularity with the masses into a
successful political career.
In 1982, when MGR was chief minister,
Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK,
the party he founded. Her political rise was rapid; within a few years
she became AIADMK propaganda secretary and was elected to the Rajya
Sabha, the upper house of India's Parliament. After MGR's death in
Jayalalithaa proclaimed herself his political heir and, having
fought off the faction headed by Janaki Ramachandran, MGR's widow,
emerged as the sole leader of the AIADMK.
From 1989 she was the general secretary of the All
India Anna Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), a
Dravidian party whose cadre revered her
as their Amma (mother), Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) and
Thanga Tharagai (golden maiden). Her critics in the media and the
opposition accused her of fostering a personality cult, and of
demanding absolute loyalty from AIADMK legislators and ministers who
often publicly prostrated themselves before her. Following the 1989
election, she became Leader of the Opposition to the DMK-led
government headed by Karunanidhi, her bête noire.
Jayalalithaa became chief minister, Tamil Nadu's youngest, for
the first time.
1 Early life, education, and family
2 Film career
2.1 Early career
2.2 Later career
3 Political career
3.1 Early political career
3.2 Leader of the Opposition, 1989
3.3 First term as Chief Minister, 1991
3.4 Loss of power, 1996
3.5 Second term as Chief Minister, 2001
3.6 Third term as Chief Minister, 2011
3.7 Disproportionate assets case, 2014
3.8 Return as Chief Minister, 2015
3.9 Elected as Chief Minister in 2016
4 Illness, death and reactions
5 Legislative career
5.1 Elections contested
6 Awards and honours
8 Further reading
10 External links
Early life, education, and family
Jayalalithaa was born on 24 February 1948 at Melukote, Pandavapura
Mandya district, then in
Mysore State (now Karnataka) to
Jayaram and Vedavalli in Tamil
Jayalalitha was given her grandmother's name Komalavalli at the time
The name Jayalalitha was adopted at the age of one for the purpose of
using the name in school and colleges. It was derived from the names
of two houses where she resided in Mysore. One was "Jaya Vilas" and
the other "Lalitha Vilas". Her paternal grandfather, Narasimhan
Rengachary, was in the service of the
Mysore kingdom as a surgeon, and
served as the court physician to Maharaja
Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV
Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of
Mysore. Her maternal grandfather, Rangasamy Iyengar, moved to Mysore
Srirangam to work with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He had one
son and three daughters – Ambujavalli, Vedavalli and
Padmavalli. Vedavalli was given in marriage to Narasimhan Rengachary's
son, Jayaram. The couple Jayaram-Vedvalli had two children: a son
Jayakumar and a daughter, Jayalalitha. Her mother, her relatives
and later co-stars and friends referred her as Ammu.
Jayalalitha's father, Jayaram, was a lawyer but never worked and
squandered most of the family money. He died when Jayalalitha was two
years old. The widowed Vedavalli returned to her father's home in
Bangalore in 1950. Vedavalli learnt shorthand and typewriting to
take up a clerical position to help support the family in 1950. Her
younger sister Ambujavalli had moved to Madras, working as an air
hostess. She also started acting in drama and films using the screen
name Vidyavathy. On the insistence of Ambujavalli, Jayalalithaa's
mother Vedavalli also relocated to Madras and stayed with her sister
from 1952. Vedavalli worked in a commercial firm in Madras and began
dabbling in acting from 1953 under the screen name Sandhya.
Jayalalitha remained under the care of her mother's sister Padmavalli
and maternal grandparents from 1950 to 1958 in Mysore. While
still in Bangalore,
Jayalalithaa attended Bishop Cotton Girls'
School. In later interviews,
Jayalalithaa spoke emotionally about
how she missed her mother growing up in a different city. She had the
opportunity to visit her mother during summer holidays.
After her aunt Padmavalli's marriage in 1958, Jayalalitha moved to
Madras and began to live with her mother. She completed her education
at Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park
Presentation Convent or Presentation Church Park Convent).
She excelled at school and was offered a government scholarship to
pursue further education. She won Gold State Award for coming
first in 10th standard in the state of Tamil Nadu. She appears not to
have accepted the admission offer from Stella Maris College. She
was fluent in several languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada,
Hindi, Malayalam and English.
Her brother's wedding took place at her home in Poes Gardens in
1972. Her brother Jayakumar, his wife Vijayalakshmi and their
Deepa Jayakumar lived in Poes Garden with Jayalalitha till
1978 and then moved to T.Nagar
Chennai at the bungalow 'Sandhya
Illam' which was bought by mother of Jayalalitha. Her brother was
unhappy with adoption of Sudhakaran, a relative of Sasikala, as foster
son of Jayalalitha.
Jayalalithaa had adopted Sasikala's nephew Sudhakaran in 1995 and
disowned him in 1996. Her brother died in 1995 of heart
She was fond of having dogs as her pets.But after death of Julie, a
Spitz, in 1998 she could not bear loss of death of her pets and hence
discontinued keeping pet dogs at her home.
See also: Jayalalitha filmography
In Chennai, Jayalalitha was trained in Carnatic music, western
classical piano and various forms of classical dance, including
Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri Kathak. She
learnt Bharatnatyam and dance forms under K.J.Sarasa.She had also
Kuchipudi under Padma Bhushan Guru Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam.
She became an accomplished dancer and gave her debut dance performance
at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha in Mylapore in May 1960. The Chief
Guest at the Arangetram was Shivaji Ganesan, who expressed wish that
Jayalalitha becomes a film star in future.
While a child,
Jayalalithaa acted in the Kannada-language film Sri
Shaila Mahathme (1961), which had Rajkumar and
Krishna Kumari in lead
roles. She had been taken to the studio by her mother as she was
shooting in the same premises for a different film. While Jayalalithaa
was watching the shooting, a problem arose as the child actress
playing the Goddess Parvathy in a school drama scene in the film
failed to show up and the producer Neerlahalli Thalikerappa and
director Aroor Pattabhi asked Sandhya if Jayalalitha could be asked to
act in the dance sequence. Sandhya agreed and Jayalalitha was swiftly
dressed up as Parvathy and the scene was shot in Sri Shaila
Krishna in a three-minute dance sequence held on stage in
the Hindi film Manmauji (1962) and danced with Kumari Naaz who played
Y. G. Parthasarathy ran the drama troupe United Amateur
Artistes (UAA), which staged English and Tamil plays. Soon Jayalalitha
while a schoolgirl began acting in some plays of Parthasarathy along
with her mother and aunt. She acted in small roles in plays such as
Tea House of the August Moon and Undersecretary between 1960 and 1964.
Shankar Giri, the son of the former Indian President V. V. Giri, saw
her small role in the English play Tea Houses of August Moon and was
impressed. Shankar Giri approached her mother Sandhya and told he
wanted to cast her daughter in an English film called The Epistle.
Sandhya reluctantly agreed with the condition that shooting should be
held only during weekends or school holidays.
Sandhya had acted in the 1964 Tamil film Karnan, produced and directed
Kannada film-maker B. R. Panthulu.
Jayalalithaa accompanied her
mother to a party related to the film and was spotted by Panthulu, who
then decided to cast her opposite Kalyankumar in the
Chinnada Gombe. He promised to finish all shooting within two months
in order not to interfere with her education. Since Jayalalitha would
be studying for her PUC in two months' time, Sandhya had declined the
offer initially. Sandhya agreed when that promise was made and
Jayalalithaa started acting and she was paid ₹3,000 (equivalent to
₹110,000 or US$1,700 in 2017). Panthulu kept his promise and
completed shooting in six weeks.
Jayalalithaa had forgotten all about
films after acting in her
Kannada debut film and had got ready to
attend classes at Stella Maris as she had an ambition to be a lawyer.
Kannada debut film became a blockbuster in 1964 and she became
a well-known face.
Jayalalithaa continued acting in Parthasarathy's plays. She
played the leading role in plays such as Malathi, The Whole Truth, and
the dance drama Kaveri Thanda Kalaiselvi between 1960 and 1966. She
made her debut as the lead actress in
Kannada films while still in
school, age 15, in
Chinnada Gombe (1964). She also appeared in a
dance sequence of a song named "Malligeya Hoovinantha" in the movie
Amarashilpi Jakannachari (1964).
She made her debut in Tamil theatre in April 1964, when she played a
sales girl in the drama named Undersecretary. Parthasarthy and Sandhya
were the lead characters, while Jayalalitha and
Cho Ramaswamy were
paired together and A. R. Srinivasan was also involved. The play was
based on the lives of middle aged couple and Jayalaitha played
character of sales girl in the drama. Her performance caused
Parthasarthy to make her lead heroine in a drama named Malathy.
Meanwhile, the films she had shot during her vacation in April–May
Chinnada Gombe and Manushulu Mamathalu – became
blockbusters. By end of 1965 she had become popular among film
producers and directors. She was approached by
C. V. Sridhar
C. V. Sridhar for
her Tamil film debut as well. Between 1964 and 1966 she did around 35
shows of drama named Malathy and later discontinued as she became very
busy in films. It was during the year 1964, financial debts had
increased of Sandhaya and she suggested her daughter to make use of
the increasing film offers coming her way.
Jayalalithaa's debut in
Tamil cinema was the leading role in Vennira
Aadai (1965), directed by C. V. Sridhar. She made her debut in Telugu
films as lead actress in
Manushulu Mamathalu opposite Akkineni
Nageshwara Rao. Her last Telugu release was also opposite Akkineni
Nageswara Rao in the film Nayakudu Vinayakudu, which was released in
1980. She was the first heroine to appear in skirts in Tamil
films. She acted in one Hindi film called Izzat, with Dharmendra
as her male costar in 1968. She starred in 28 box-office hit films
with M.G. Ramachandran between 1965 and 1973. The first with MGR
was B.R. Panthalu's Aayirathil Oruvan in 1965 and their last film
Pattikaattu Ponnaiya in 1973.
Jayalalitha donated gold jewelleries she had to the then Prime
Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
She had 11 successful releases in Tamil in 1966. In the opening
credits of Arasa Katalai, for the first time her name was affixed with
the phrase Kavarchi Kanni. In 1967 she bought her bungalow, Veda
Nilayam, in Poes Gardens for ₹1.32 lakh (equivalent to
₹50 lakh or US$77,000 in 2017).
Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar was on the lookout for a regular
heroine for his production after he had fight with the actress
Savithri after the release of Vetaikkaran, and he signed Jayalalitha
on in 1965. She became a regular heroine for production house Devar
films from 1966.
Jaishankar was romantically paired with
Jayalalithaa in eight Tamil
films including Muthuchippi, Yaar Nee?, Nee (film), Vairam, Vandhale
Bommalattam (1968 film)
Bommalattam (1968 film) (1968),
Raja Veetu Pillai and
Avalukku Aayiram Kangal whereas the films
Thanga Gopuram and Gowri
Kalyanam had him play elder brother to her.
Jayalalitha acted in twelve films as heroine opposite N. T. Rama Rao,
in Telugu –
Gopaludu Bhoopaludu (1967), Chikkadu Dorakadu
Tikka Shankaraiah (1968),
Niluvu Dopidi (1968), Baghdad Gaja
Donga (1968), Kathanayakudu (1969),
Kadaladu Vadaladu (1969),
Gandikota Rahasyam (1969),
Ali Baba 40 Dongalu (1970), Shri Krishna
Vijayam (1970), Shri
Krishna Satya (1972), and Devudu Chesina
Manushulu (1973). Jayalalitha had eight films with Akkineni Nageswara
Rao in Telugu –
Manushulu Mamathalu (1965),
Aadarsa Kutumbam (1969),
Bharya Biddalu (1972),
Premalu Pellillu (1974) and Nayakudu Vinayakudu
She also made guest appearance in Telugu film Navarthi (1966). Her
films in Telugu also included two films with
Krishna and one each with
Sobhan Babu, Jaggayya, Ramakrishna and Haranath. She has been
given on-screen credit as Kalai Selvi in most of her Tamil films since
List of Best Actress awards for J.Jayalalithaa
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress
Tamil Nadu Cinema Fan Award for Best Actress
Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Tamil
Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu
Russian Film festival
Madras Film Association Awards for Best Actress
Between 1965 and 1973,
Jayalalithaa starred opposite M. G.
Ramachandran in a number of successful films, including Aayirathil
Oruvan, Kavalkaran, Adimai Penn, Engal Thangam, Kudiyirundha Koyil,
Ragasiya Police 115
Ragasiya Police 115 and Nam Naadu.
Cho Ramaswamy cast her in
the lead role in his directorial venture Yarrukkum Vetkam Illai.
She acted with Ravichandran in ten films — Gowri Kalyanam
Kumari Penn (1966),
Naan (1967), Magarasi (1967), Maadi Veettu
Panakkara Pillai (1968),
Moondru Yezhuthu (1968),
Andru Kanda Mugam
Andru Kanda Mugam (1968),
Avalukku Aayiram Kangal and Baghdad
Perazhagi (1974). In 1972, she acted opposite
Sivaji Ganesan in
Pattikada Pattanama, which went on to win the National Film Award for
Best Feature Film in Tamil in 1973.
In 1973, she acted in Sri
Krishna Satya, which won her the Filmfare
Award for Best Actress in Telugu. Her other films with Sivaji
Galatta Kalyanam and Deiva Magan; the latter holds the
distinction of being the first Tamil film to be submitted by
an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Jayalalitha was paired opposite
Sivaji Ganesan in 17 films. She acted
in six films with
R. Muthuraman as a romantic leading pair –
Dhikku Theriyadha Kaattil, Thirumangalyam, Kanavan Manaivi, Avandhan
Manidhan, Suryagandhi, Anbu Thangai and Muthuraman played
supporting roles in Kannan En Kadhalan, Major Chandrakanth,
film), En Annan, Adi Parashakti, Thaer Thiruvizha, Dharmam Engey,
Chitra Pournami and Oru Thaai Makkal. She made her debut in Malayalam
with Jesus (1973). Her 100th film was
directed by A. Vincent.
She was romantically paired opposite
Kandan Karunai and
Sivakumar played supporting roles in Shakti Leelai,
Yarrukum Vetkam Ilali, Thirumangalyam, Annaivelakanni, Kavalkaran,
Motoram Sunderapillai and Ganga Gowri.
The heroes of her films never objected to the title of the film being
conferred on the female lead played by Jayalalitha. Adimai Penn, Kanni
Kannan En Kadhalan
Kannan En Kadhalan had Ramachandran as the lead male hero
but the story and the title was built around the character played by
Jayalalithaa. Similarly, Engerindo Vandhaal, Sumathi En Sundari,
Anbai Thedi had Sivaji Ganeshan as the male lead but
the title and the story was built around her character. She did many
female-centric films where the story revolved on her character, such
as Vennira Adai, Yaar Nee?, Kumari Penn, Nee, Gowri Kalyanam,
Magaraasi, Muthu Chippi, Thanga Gopuram, Avalukku Ayiram Kangal,
Annamitta Kai, Vandhaale Magaraasi, Suryagandhi, Thirumangalyam,
Yarukkum Vetkam Illai, and Kanavan Manaivi.
She received the title "Nadippuku Ilakkium Vahuthuvar" and also won
Tamil Nadu Cinema Fan Award for Best Actress for her 100th film in
1974. Her last film in Tamil was Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal
(1980). Her last film as the heroine was
Nayakudu Vinayakudu in
Telugu, which became the highest grosser of the year in Telugu.
Kannada films include
Badukuva Daari (1966), Mavana
Nanna Kartavya (1965),
Chinnada Gombe (1964) and Mane
Jayalalithaa holds the record for having been the Tamil
actress with maximum silver jubilee hits in her career – 85
hits of 92 Tamil films as main female lead heroine and in addition she
also has all 28 films in Telugu as silver jubilee hits. She was
the highest paid Indian actress from 1965–1980. She made guest
appearances in nine films and six of her films were dubbed into Hindi.
She had 119 box office hits between 1961 and 1980, of the total 125
films she did as the main female lead. She made a brief appearance in
1992's Neenga Nalla Irukkanum.
Jayalalithaa won the
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress for
Thanga Gopuram in 1971, Raman Thediya Seethai in 1972,
Thirumangalyam in 1974,
Yarukkum Vetkam Illai in 1975. She
acted in mythological films like Kandan Karunai, Aadhi Parashakti,
Krishna Satya, Shri
Krishna Vijayam, Shri Rama Katha, Shri
Krishna Leela, Shakti Leelai, Ganga Gowri, Annai Velankanni, and
Jesus. Her period dramas include Ayirathil Oruvan, Neerum Neruppum,
Mani Magudam, Adimai Penn, Ali Baba 40 Dongalu, Arasa Katalai, and
She acquired the reputation of being a multi-faceted actor equally
comfortable in fantasy and mythological genres as well as in modern
social dramas and hence in 1969, in Tamil Conference, she was
given the tag of Kaveri Thandha Kalai Selvi.
Saroja Devi have been cited as the first female superstars of
Tamil Cinema. She did double roles in eight films.
Special Award from Filmfare for her performances in
‘Chandhrodhayam’, ‘Adimai Penn’ and ‘Engirundho Vandhaal’
in the years 1966, 1969 and 1970 as the Filmfare Award for Best
Actress was introduced only in 1972. Her performance in Pattikada
Suryagandhi were critically acclaimed and won her
consecutive Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 1972 and 1973
From 1968-73, Jaya at peak of career took interviews and wrote columns
in the magazines like Bommai. She wrote a column-Ennanga Selar in
magazine Tughlaq in the 1970s. She also wrote short story "Oravin
Kaidhigal" for the magazine Kalki, Manadhdai Thotaa Malargal for Thaai
magazine in the early 1980s etc. She wrote about her own life in a
serialised memoir in the Tamil weekly magazine Kumudam.
In 1980, she decided to voluntarily decline any new film offers. The
journalist Brian Laul wrote an article specifying Jayalalitha was
trying for a comeback but was not being offered any roles. Jayalalitha
chose to respond to him by writing a letter, in which she mentioned
that she was not struggling to make any comeback and that she turned
down the offer from producer Balaji to star in Billa opposite
Rajnikanth. She added she wanted to pursue other interests and was not
interested in pursuing her film career any further.
Her closest friends from film industry included Manorama, Cho
Ramaswamy, Rajasree, Jamuna, Saroja Devi, Kumari Sachu, Anjali
Devi, Sowcar Janaki, Sukumari, Ravichandran, R.Muthuraman, Nagesh,
M.N.Nambiar, Venniradai Nirmala, S.A.Asokan, Jaishankar,
V.K.Ramaswamy, Major Sunnderajan, P.Susheela, Sheela,
M.S.Vishwanathan, L.R.Eshwari, R.S.Manohar.
She quoted on M.G.Ramachandran, "He was a very warm and caring kind of
a person. And after Mother died, he replaced her in my life. He was
everything to me. He was mother, father, brother, friend, philosopher,
guide. Everything. He sort of took over my life." In many of her
interviews she often said she entered films on being asked by her
mother and entered politics on request by M.G.Ramachandran.
Early political career
Jayalalithaa with her mentor MGR
Jayalalithaa denied claims that MGR, who had been chief minister for
the state since 1977, was instrumental in introducing her to
politics. In 1982, she joined the AIADMK, which was founded by
MGR. Her maiden public speech, "Pennin Perumai" ("The Greatness of
a Woman"), was delivered at the AIADMK's political conference in the
same year and was well received.Even the then Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi and the
Rajya Sabha member Khushwant Singh came to
witness her speech which was widely acclaimed for its clarity of
diction and elegant prose. Her seat number in
Rajya Sabha was
185,which was co-incidentally the same as that of what C.N.Annadurai
had while he was a member in the Rajya Sabha.  In 1983, she
became propaganda secretary for the party and campaigned extensively
for the party candidate in the by-election for the Tiruchendur
MGR wanted her to be a member of the
Rajya Sabha because of her
fluency in English. Indira Gandhi lauded Jayalalitha for the
various speeches she made on issues including the one on internal
security in Rajya Sabha.
Jayalalithaa was elected to that body in
1984 and retained her seat until 1989. Her success in her role as
propaganda secretary caused resentment among high-ranking members of
the party. By engineering a rift between her and MGR, these members
influenced MGR to stop her writing about her personal life in a Tamil
magazine. Despite these machinations, she remained admired by the rank
and file of the party.She was given key responsibilities, including
in the implementation of the landmark noon-meals scheme when
M.G.Ramachandran was the CM and this taught her lessons in welfare
politics. Later when MGR fell ill, she campaigned extensively for the
party before the 1984 election.
In 1984, when MGR was incapacitated due to a stroke,
said to have attempted to take over the position of chief minister or
the party on the pretext that his health would prevent him from the
proper execution of his duties. She successfully led the campaign
in the 1984 general elections, in which the ADMK allied with the
Congress. Following his death in 1987, the AIADMK split into two
factions: one supported his widow,
Janaki Ramachandran This faction
was called AIADMK(JA)and the other favoured
Jayalalithaa faction was supported by senior leaders like
V.R. Nedunchezhiyan, Aranganayagam, KKSSRR Ramachandran,
Thirunavukarasar. Janaki was selected as the Chief Minister on 7
January 1988 with the support of 96 members; due in part to
irregularities by speaker P.H. Pandian, who dismissed six members to
ease her victory, she won a motion of confidence in the house.
Rajiv Gandhi used Article 356 of the Constitution of
dismiss the Janaki-led government and impose president's rule on the
At the age of 41,
Jayalalithaa entered the Assembly successfully
contesting the subsequent 1989 elections on the basis of being MGR's
Leader of the Opposition, 1989
She was elected to the
Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989 as a
representative of the
Bodinayakkanur (State Assembly Constituency).
This election saw the Jayalalithaa-led faction of the AIADMK win 27
Jayalalithaa became the first woman to be elected Leader of
the Opposition. In February 1989, the two factions of ADMK merged and
they unanimously accepted
Jayalalithaa as their leader and the "Two
leaves" symbol of the party was restored.
On 25 March 1989, as claimed by the party and a section of the members
present in the assembly, amidst heavy violence inside the house among
the ruling DMK party members and the opposition, Jayalilatha was
brutally attacked by the ruling DMK members in front of the assembly
speaker on the behest of Chief Minister Karunanidhi. Jayalalitha
left the Assembly with her torn saree -drawing a parallel with the
shameful disrobing of
Draupadi in the epic
Mahabharata. At the peak of the situation,
Jayalalithaa was about to leave the house, she vowed to not enter the
house "until as a Chief Minister". In spite of some sections
of media terming it as a theatrics, it received a lot of media
coverage and sympathy from the public. During the 1989
general elections, the ADMK allied with the Congress party and was
handed a significant victory. The ADMK, under her leadership, also won
the by-elections in Marungapuri, Madurai East and Peranamallur
First term as Chief Minister, 1991
In 1991, following the assassination of
Rajiv Gandhi days before the
elections, her alliance with the
Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress enabled her
to ride the wave of sympathy that gave the coalition victory.
The ADMK alliance with the Congress won 225 out of the 234 seats
contested and won all 39 constituencies in the centre. Re-elected
to the assembly, she became the first female, and the youngest, chief
minister, of Tamil Nadu, to serve a full term, serving from 24 June
1991 to 12 May 1996. In 1992, her government introduced the
"Cradle Baby Scheme". At that time the ratio of male to female in some
Tamil Nadu was skewed by the practice of female infanticide
and the abortion of female foetuses. The government established
centres in some areas, these being equipped to receive and place into
adoption unwanted female babies. The scheme was extended in 2011.
Her party had 226 elected members to the assembly. Her government was
the first to introduce police stations operated solely by women. She
introduced 30% quota for women in all police jobs and established as
many as 57 all-women police stations. There were other all-women
establishments like libraries, stores, banks and co-operative
elections. She began to be referred as Thanga Gopuram, Thanga
Chillai and Thanga Tharagai (Golden Maiden) by her followers.
She first invited Ford Motor Company to establish business in Tamil
Nadu in 1995.This was followed by numerous companies setting up
factories here especially from automobiles sector which included
Hyundai Motor, BMW, Daimler, Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Wright,
Yamaha. Due to this,
Chennai began to be called as the Detroit of
India under her first term.Royal Enfield made significant
Tamil Nadu and apart from Ashok Leyland, TAFE and TVS
Motors became key players in Tamil Nadu.
She earned a reputation for a punishing work ethic and for
centralising state power among a coterie of bureaucrats; her council
of ministers, whom she often shuffled around, were largely ceremonial
in nature. The successful cradle-baby scheme, which enabled mothers to
anonymously offer their newborns for adoption, emerged during this
time. Despite an official salary of only a rupee a month, Jayalalithaa
indulged in public displays of wealth, culminating in a lavish wedding
for her foster son in 1995.
Loss of power, 1996
The Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK lost power in the 1996 elections, when it
won 4 of the 168 seats that they contested.
herself defeated by the DMK candidate in Bargur Constituency. The
outcome has been attributed to an anti-incumbency sentiment and
several allegations of corruption and malfeasance against her and her
ministers. The wedding event of her foster son Sudhakaran, who
married a granddaughter of the Tamil film actor Shivaji Ganesan, was
held on 7 September 1995 at
Chennai and was viewed on large screens by
over 150,000 people. The event holds two Guinness World Records: one
is for the most guests at a wedding and the other is for being the
largest wedding banquet. Subsequently, in November 2011,
Jayalalithaa told a special court than the entire ₹6 crore
(equivalent to ₹25 crore or US$3.9 million in 2017)
expenses associated with the wedding were paid by the family of the
Her fortunes revived in the 1998 general election, as the AIADMK
became a key component of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's
1998–99 government; her withdrawal of support toppled it and
triggered another general election just a year later.
There were several corruption cases filed against her by the ruling
DMK government headed by Karunanidhi. Jayalalitha was arrested on 7
December 1996 and was remanded to 30-day judicial custody in
connection with the Colour TV scam, which charged her with receiving
kickbacks to the tune of ₹10.13 crore (equivalent to
₹43 crore or US$6.6 million in 2017). The investigation
alleged that the amount through the TV dealers were routed in the form
of cheques to a relative of Sasikala, who had quoted Jayalalitha's
residence as hers. She earlier filed an anticipatory bail in the trial
court, which was rejected on 7 December 1996. She was acquitted
in the case on 30 May 2000 by the trial court and the High Court
upheld the order of the lower court.
Though Sudhakaran was adopted by Jayalalitha as her foster son in
1995, when she became aware that Sudhakaran began to interfere in her
financial affairs and that he took money without intending to repay,
she disowned him in 1996 within one year of adoption.
When questioned on her views on Sasikala,
Jayalalithaa quoted in 1996
"Sasikala never functioned as extra constitutional power
centre.Calling her defacto chief minister is nonsense. She is not
interested in politics and I have no intention to bring her into
politics." It annoyed her when people said Sasikala was behind many of
her political decisions and termed such news as rubbish and insult to
her position as chief minister.
Second term as Chief Minister, 2001
Jayalalithaa was barred from standing as a candidate in the 2001
elections because she was found guilty of criminal offences, including
allegedly obtaining property belonging to a state-operated agency
called TANSI. Although she appealed to the Supreme Court, having been
sentenced to five years' imprisonment, the matter was not resolved at
the time of the elections. Despite this, the AIADMK won a
majority and she was installed as Chief Minister as a non-elected
member of the state assembly on 14 May 2001. She was also
Pleasant Stay hotel case
Pleasant Stay hotel case on 3 February 2000 by a trial
court to one-year imprisonment.
Jayalalithaa was acquitted in both the
TANSI and Pleasant Stay Hotel cases on 4 December 2001 and the Supreme
Court upheld the order of the High Court on 24 November
The AIADMK returned to power in 2001, although
personally disbarred from contesting due to the corruption cases.
Within a few months of her taking oath as chief minister, in September
2001, she was disqualified from holding office, and forced to cede the
chair to loyalist O. Panneerselvam. Upon her acquittal six months
Jayalalithaa returned as chief minister to complete her term.
Noted for its ruthlessness to political opponents, many of whom were
arrested in midnight raids, her government grew unpopular.
Her appointment was legally voided in September 2001 when the Supreme
Court ruled that she could not hold it whilst convicted of criminal
acts. O. Panneerselvam, a minister in her party, was subsequently
installed as the Chief Minister. However, his government was purported
to have been puppeted and micro-managed by Jayalalithaa.
Subsequently, in March 2003,
Jayalalithaa assumed the position of
Chief Minister once more, having been acquitted of some charges by the
Madras High Court. This cleared the way for her to contest a
mid-term poll to the Andipatti constituency, after the sitting MLA for
the seat, gave up his membership, which she won by a handsome
India's first company of female police commandos was set up in Tamil
Nadu in 2003. They underwent the same training as their male
counterparts, covering the handling of weapons, detection and disposal
of bombs, driving, horseriding, and adventure sports. The
government led by her in 2003 banned sale of all lotteries, including
online, within the territory of the state, despite the risk of the
state losing revenue. She gave orders to special task force headed by
K.Vijaykumar to conduct secret operation to capture and kill the
dreaded poacher and sandalwood smuggler Veerappan by entering
Karnataka. In 2004 she declared eliminating Verappan aa biggest
achievement of her government and quoted ""My only brief to them was
capture Veerappan dead or alive. After that I never interfered. I left
them to work out their own strategies and this paid off."  She
began to be referred as 'People's CM'[Makallin Mudhalvar] and Iron
India by end of this term. In this term she launched
Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) scheme in 2001 to rejuvenate water sources
and this improved ground water levels in the parched southern state
and this idea was replicated by various states and even by the Centre.
She also started the Veeranam project to deliver water to the dry
metropolis of Chennai. Doctor Manmohan Singh frequently praised
Jayalalithaa for her administrative skills, mid-day meal schemes and
efforts for gender empowerment.
Her administrative abilities were notable in her handling of events
following the tsunami that hit
Tamil Nadu on 26 December 2004.
Jayalalithaa announced a Rs 153.37 crore relief package, divided into
a general package and a separate one for fishermen. She announced that
affected families would get Rs 1 lakh as compensation for every member
lost, along with one dhoti, one sari, two bedsheets, 60 kg of
rice, three litres of kerosene, and Rs 1,000 in cash for groceries and
that furthermore, Rs 1,000 was to be given for purchase of utensils,
Rs 2,000 so they could put up accommodation. Per family, and there
were about one lakh families in all, the package would cost about Rs
5,000. The fishermen also received an extra Rs 65 crore meant to cover
gill nets and boats.It was only a matter of hours before Nagapattinam
had its power supply back. With the state working on disaster
management for over seven years, response time had been reduced
significantly; mobile cranes and ambulances were on patrol. The
government entrusted district administration with rehabilitation of
affected families, and when they were found to be incompetent, she
reshuffled or sacked officers immediately.
Jayalalithaa even extended
help to the Sri Lankan government by instating officers to guide the
island nation in the process of rehabilitation. Her administrative
style was uncompromising, whether it was banning the sale of gutkha,
or mandatory installation of rainwater harvesting systems, but, she
got things done on time without any ifs or buts, as was seen with the
tsunami relief, ensuring people remembered not the ruthlessness of her
tenure, but the help it gave them.
But, still her party fared poorly in May 2006
Tamil Nadu Legislative
Assembly election, 2006 with Her party winning just 61 seats out of
total 234 in the state elections in 2006. She won in Andipatti. Though
her main opposition, DMK did not win a single party majority (96/234),
DMK coalition had 162/234 seats and formed the cabinet till 2011 which
she referred to as Minority DMK government.
Third term as Chief Minister, 2011
Jayalalithaa with U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton in July 2011
After another period (2006–11) in the opposition,
sworn in as chief minister for the fourth time after the AIADMK swept
the 2011 assembly election. Her government received attention for its
extensive social-welfare agenda, which included several subsidised
"Amma"-branded goods such as (Amma Unavagam canteens, bottled water
In April 2011, the AIADMK was part of a 13-party alliance that won the
14th state assembly elections.
Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the chief
Tamil Nadu for the third time on 16 May 2011, having been
elected unanimously as the leader of the AIADMK party subsequent to
On 19 December 2011,
Jayalalithaa expelled her long-time close aide
Sasikala Natarajan and 13 others from the AIADMK after she became
aware that Sasikala and her family were working against her. Most
of the party members welcomed her decision, and on 2 February
Tehelka magazine claimed that Natarajan and some of her
relatives were conspiring to kill her by poisoning her food over a
period of time. The matter was resolved by 31 March when Sasikala
Natarajan was reinstated as a party member after issuing a written
apology. Sasikala in her written apology mentioned that she had
no ambitions either in the party or in the government and wanted to
serve Jayalalitha and added that she became aware of misdeeds done by
her family members when Jayalalitha was in power.Only after Sasikala
promised to be not in touch with her family members, Jayalalitha
allowed Sasikala back in her house and party.
In this term she announced Pension Scheme for Destitute Transgender by
which those above age of 40 could get monthly pension of Rs.1,000.Her
government ensured members of transgender community could enrol for
education and job.  Beginning from 2011, every year her
government gave free laptops to students who clear tenth and twelfth
standard to impart digital education to rural areas. Her
government in 2011 decided to give four goats and a cow to each family
below poverty line — mixer and grinders and fans, 3 sets of
free uniforms, school, bags, notebooks, geometry boxes for all
children in government schools, and cycles and laptops for Class 11
and 12 students. In 2011 she launched the marriage assistance
scheme wherein the female students received 4 gram gold free for use
Thirumangalyam for their marriage and cash assistance up to
Rs.50,000 for undergraduate or diploma holding females. There
were rampant power cut issues between 2006 and 2011 while AIDMK was in
opposition wherein for 10 to 15 hours there was no sup ply of
electricity. However, after she regained power, between 2011 and 2015,
her state government corrected all the discrepancies of previous DMK
regime such that the Central Electricity Authority in 2016 said the
state is expected to have 11,649 million units of surplus power.
Tamil Nadu became among the power surplus states while she was chief
minister in this term.In this term her government ensured the
wrongfully usurped property by land grabbing during 2006 to 2011 in
the previous DMK regime, had been retrieved and handed over to
rightful owners between 2011 and 2015.
She announced in 2012, the Vision 2023 document which embodied a
strategic plan for infrastructure development which included raising
the per capita income of residents to $10,000 per annum, matching
Human Development Index to that of developed countries by 2023,
providing high-quality infrastructure all over the State, making Tamil
Nadu the knowledge capital and innovation hub of India. This project
had three components — Overall Vision Document, Compilation of
Project Profile and Road Map. The work on this continued under her
supervision till her death.
Disproportionate assets case, 2014
See also: Disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa
Three years into her tenure, she was convicted in a
disproportionate-assets case, rendering her disqualified to hold
On 27 September 2014,
Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in jail
and fined ₹100 crore (equivalent to ₹114 crore or
US$17 million in 2017) by the
Special Court in Bangalore. She was
convicted in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case that was
launched by Janata Party President
Subramanian Swamy (now a member of
Bharatiya Janata Party) on 20 August 1996 on the basis of an Income
Tax Department report on her. Jayalalithaa's close aide Sasikala
Natarajan, her niece Ilavarasi, her nephew and the chief minister's
disowned foster son Sudhakaran were also convicted. They were
sentenced to four years in jail and fined ₹10 crore (equivalent to
₹11 crore or US$1.7 million in 2017) each.
John Michael D'Cunha convicted her to owning assets to the tune of
₹66.65 crore (equivalent to ₹259 crore or US$40 million
in 2017) (which includes 2,000 acres (810 ha) of land, 30
kilograms (66 lb) of gold and 12,000 saris) disproportionate to
her known sources of income during 1991–96 when she was chief
minister for the first time. The verdict was delivered by a makeshift
court in the Parappana Agrahara prison complex in the presence of
Jayalalithaa and the other accused.
She was automatically disqualified from the post of CM and the
legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu, and thus became the first Indian
chief minister to be disqualified. O. Panneerselvam, a minister
in her party, succeeded her as the Chief Minister on 29 September
2014. On 17 October 2014, the Supreme Court granted her two
months' bail and suspended her sentence.
On 11 May 2015, a special Bench of the
Karnataka High Court set aside
her conviction on appeal. That court acquitted her and the alleged
associates – Sasikala Natarajan, her niece Ilavarasi, her
nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran.
On 14 February 2017 (subsequent to her death) the Supreme Court of
India over-ruled the
Karnataka High Court. Sasikala and the other
accused were convicted and sentenced to four years of imprisonment, as
well as being fined 10 crores each. The case against
abated because she had died and hence can't defend herself although
INR 100 crore fine has to be collected from Jayalalithaa's
Return as Chief Minister, 2015
The acquittal allowed her once again to hold office and on 23 May
Jayalalithaa was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
for the fifth time. She was subsequently re-elected by the electorate
Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar (State Assembly Constituency) of North
Chennai in the by-election held on 27 June 2015. In a landslide
victory, she polled more than 88 per cent votes of the 74.4 per cent
turnout, winning by a margin of over 150,000 votes.
In 2015 she introduced Amma Master Health checkup plan where in people
could get various treatments done at a low fee in government hospitals
and rolled out Amma Arogya plan wherein at primary health care centre
in Tamil Nadu, certain tests can be done by public twice a week . This
was done to help the sections of society who cannot afford the fares
asked for by private hospital. Later in February 2016 she started
the free bus ride scheme for senior citizens above age of 60 wherein
person could travel free of cost for 10 times a month. Her
government initiated Global Investors Summit in 2015 which saw over Rs
2.43 lakh crore worth of investments being committed to the state.
Jayalalithaa’s term, all of them together, saw some big-ticket
investments in the state and over $20 billion FDI. The department
of industrial policy and promotion data dislosed that
Tamil Nadu saw
foreign direct investment inflows of $7.3 billion from April 2000 to
March 2011 however this went up to $13.94 billion from April 2011 to
December 2015, under her government, which at as per conversion rate
as of 2016 equals Rs 83,766 crore. It is to be noted that between
April 2015 and December 2015, the State attracted $4.3 billion in
Elected as Chief Minister in 2016
In the 2016 assembly election, she became the first
Tamil Nadu chief
minister since MGR in 1984 to be voted back into office. That
September, she fell severely ill and, following 75 days of
hospitalization, died on 5 December 2016 due to cardiac arrest.
Jayalalithaa was again elected as
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the
May 2016 elections. She retained the R. K. Nagar constituency with a
margin of 39,545 votes over her DMK rival. She became the first
Tamil Nadu to serve consecutive terms as Chief Minister
since the death of MGR in 1987. In her victory speech, she
commented, "Even when 10 parties allied themselves against me, I did
not have a coalition and I placed my faith in God and built an
alliance with the people. It is clear that the people have faith in me
and I have total faith in the people."
Her government within 100 days of resuming power in May 2016, wrote
off the outstanding crop loans given by cooperative banks to over
16.94 lakh farmers, gave free power to households to extent of first
100 units and gave free power to handloom weavers to extent of 200
units, gave 750 units of power to powerloom weavers, implemented
closure of 500 liquor shops and reduction of working hours of liquor
outlets emergence of power surplus states. The establishment of first
1,000 MW nuclear power plant at Kudankulam is also regarded as one of
her achievements. She increased the freedom fighters monthly
pension to Rs 12,000, family pension and increased special pension to
Rs 6,000. On 21 September 2016 she inaugurated two
rail lines by way of video conferencing. This was her last public
appearance before being admitted to hospital on 22 September
Illness, death and reactions
Puratchi thalaivi selvi J.
On 22 September 2016,
Jayalalithaa was admitted to
Apollo Hospitals in
Chennai, as she was suffering from infection and acute dehydration.
Her official duties were handed over to her aide
O. Panneerselvam on
12 October 2016 , though she continued to remain as the chief minister
of the state  She was also said to be suffering from severe
pulmonary infection & septicaemia, which were cured. On 4 December
2016, she was re-admitted to the intensive care unit after suffering a
cardiac arrest around 16:45. The hospital released a press
statement stating that her condition was "very critical" and that she
was on life support. On 5 December 2016, the hospital announced
India declared a one-day national mourning with the
national flag in all government buildings flying at half-mast. While a
seven-day mourning from 6–12 December 2016 was observed by
Government of Tamil Nadu, also three day state mourning from
6–8 December 2016 were observed by Government of Kerala, and
Government of Puducherry. One day state mourning on 6 December
2016 was observed by Government of Karnataka, Government of
Government of Uttarakhand
Government of Uttarakhand and Government of Bihar.
Her body was kept in state at her residence in Poes Garden and Rajaji
Hall.Around 2 million people came to pay their last respect to her at
Rajaji Hall. Her last rites were performed on the evening of 6
December 2016 and she was interred in the northern end of the Marina
Chennai in sandalwood casket, near the grave of her mentor M.
G. Ramachandran. Various film celebrities including Rajinikanth,
Vijay, RJ Balaji, Dhamu, Nayanthara, Prabhu, Suriya,Silambarasan,
Vijay Sethupathi, Dhanush, Sarathkumar, Radha Ravi, Vyjanthimala,
Vadivelu, Ilaiyaraaja, Sachu, Sivakumar, Saroja Devi, Thanu, Karthi,
Ponvannan, Nassar, Vishal, Vivek, Kushboo, Sundar C, Vijayakumar, Arun
Vijay, Revathi, Simran as well as several politicians,
Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
paid homage to her at Rajaji Hall. 597 people dead in shock after
hearing her demise.The other politicians of
India also paid
homage to her at Rajaji Hall. Jairam Ramesh quoted "Her
achievements were often discussed by Dr Singh and Pranab babu. Both of
them liked her a lot. She was an administrator with a strong social
conscience. She was also very tough on Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam. Many people in the Congress appreciated that aspect of her
rule. She is a true mass leader and enjoyed tremendous support from
people of Tamil Nadu.".
Opposition vote percentage
N. S. Rajkumar Mandradiar
E. G. Sugavanam
Andipatti, Krishnagiri, Bhuvanagiri, Pudukkottai
Awards and honours
Jayalalithaa was awarded the
Kalaimamani by the Government of
Tamil Nadu. She has received several honorary doctorates and
other honours, beginning with an award from the University of Madras
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