India has seen 16 Prime ministers and over 280 Chief Ministers in various states, but still, never was such love showered on any political personality, as on J. jayalalitha.
Jayalalitha acted in 140 films across 6 languages. She was the highest paid Indian actress from 1965–80. When she entered as AIADMK worker in 1980 she was out of respect called as Amma meaning madam.
Although a life as great as hers cannot be summed up in an article, we have tried to highlight some key facts and events of her magnificent life.
- Her full name is Jayalalithaa Jayaraman. She is also referred to as Puratchi Thalavi and Amma. Puratchi Thalavi means “Revolutionary Leader”.
- She was born in Mysore and not in Tamil Nadu.
- As a child, Jayalalithaa had a fan-girl crush on cricketer Tiger Ali Khan Pataudi She used to go for his matches along with binoculars just to watch him.
- She is trained in Bharatanatyam, western classical piano, classical music and other forms of classical dance.
- She is fluent in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, English, Hindi and can understand Malayalam.
- As she is fluent in English, MGR wanted her to be a member of Rajya Sabha from AIADMK.
- She was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1984 and served till 1989.
- After MGR’s death, AIADMK split into two groups, one supported Jayalalithaa and the other supported MGR’s wife Janaki.
- Jaya contested in 1989 elections and become the first woman to be elected as Leader of the Opposition.
- Jayalalitha was attacked brutally and molested by DMK members on 25th March 1989 in front of Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Assembly speaker.
While Jayalalithaa was coming out of the assembly, the then minister for public works, Durai Murugan, among Karunanidhi’s favorites even today, obstructed her path, clutching at her sari as she cried for assistance.
This incident—with its echoes of the shameful disrobing of Draupadi in theMahabharata—was the beginning of the end for Karunanidhi. Jayalalithaa publicly vowed to “never step foot inside the House until conditions are created for a woman to attend the Assembly with dignity”. The media condemned Karunanidhi and his men as uncouth and rowdy. And Karunanidhi did nothing – he did not dismiss Durai, nor did he condemn the incident.
She left the assembly with her torn saree and this brought a lot of sympathy for her.
- In 1991, Jayalalithaa became the youngest and the first female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to complete a full 5-year term.
- She resumed office for 5 times. Her tenure of 5228 days is the second most by any female Chief Minister of India next to Sheila Dikshit (5504 days).
- She introduced police stations which are fully operated by women and established 57 all-women police stations across Tamil Nadu.
- Jayalalithaa is the first and only incumbent chief minister of India to get disqualified from holding the office because of the disproportionate assets case in 2014.
However, on 11 May 2015, she was acquitted from the case by Karnataka High Court and was re-elected as the Chief Minister.
- Jayalalithaa holds the world record for hosting the largest wedding reception in the Guinness Book of World Records. She organized a lavish wedding with over 1,50,000 guests for her foster son Sudhagaran in 1995.
- When she became Chief Minister, she was given a cheque as her first salary. She said she had “abundant sources of income and did not need the salary.” On being told that she should receive salary as a public servant, she accepted Re 1 as salary.
From food products, schools, TV, daily products, water bottles…. AMMA’s name is famous everywhere. AMMA was the nothing short of messiah for the poor. Doubt it? Here are few of the schemes launched by AMMA for the welfare of the poor and needy.
- AMMA Canteen
- AMMA Water bottle
- AMMA pharmacy
- AMMA laptops and mobile phones
- AMMA Salt
- AMMA Baby Kit
Despite numerous controversies surrounding her political career, Jayalalithaa has long enjoyed a cult-like following in the state, largely due to her populist and pro-poor schemes only. Rich always has it, AMMA made sure that the poor never lacked behind. She had subsidized all the basic requirements; from food, to water, to medicine and what not. For a poor, if someone just comes along and feeds his starving children, he or she is nothing less than GOD, and rightly so.
She was such a fighter that even death fought for 75 days to win her.
She became the Chief Minister for 5 terms, and each time on her own term.
AMMA will be missed.