Jayalalithaa – End of an Era

Rajat Kain

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Curtains have fallen on the illustrious career spanning nearly six decades, streamed between the silver screen and politics. From being one of the most popular actresses, 68-years-old J Jayalaithaa lived through her political innings with élan.

The cult figure, affectionately called ‘Amma’ among her followers and even by the critics, Jayalalithaa – the leader – took up the mantle of India’s sixth-most populous state for the six terms starting June 1991.

Her recent assembly victory came in May 2016, where she stood on the top creating record beating the anti-incumbency in Tamil Nadu politics, a feat seen after a long time. Her victory had not just stamped her authority but easily accorded her a political honour of a tall order.

Jayalalithaa started her political career in 1982 with her formal entry in AIADMK, which was then led by another charismatic and cult figure in Tamil Nadu – MG Ramachandran, known as MGR.

She rose in the ranks and was made an office bearer holding position of AIADMK’s propaganda secretary in 1983. That was followed by her entry to the Upper House of the Parliament in 1984, where she continued till 1989.

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With the demise of her mentor MGR in December 1987, AIADMK was in the thick of succession battle. Two years later, Jayalalithaa veered her faction of AIADMK above the one owing allegiance to MGR’s wife, actress-turned-politician Janaki Ramachandran. With 27 seats to Janaki’s 2, Jaya was elected as the Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu assembly.

The emerging leader was destined to the path of illustrious leadership and one of the most popular cult statuses. Her massive maiden victory in 1991 legislative assembly and a subsequent term as the Chief Minister saw her emergence in Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian politics which she charioted for five more terms. The Jaya-Congress alliance had stormed with the 243-seat legislative assembly with 225 seats, a glimpse of her political innings to follow.

Prior to her entry in politics, she was a household name with laurels on the silver screen. Six filmfare awards and many more, J Jayalalithaa’s was a career that spanned of diversity, versatility and fame.

From MGR to Sivaji Ganesan, she shared the celluloid space with several other big names of South Indian cinema.

J Jayalalithaa was born on 24 February 1948, at Melukote, in Pandavapura taluka, Mandya district, then in Mysore State (now Karnataka).