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Jayalalithaa birth anniversary: Significant moments that changed life of the actor to a successful chief minister

Updated on: 23 February,2024 08:51 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |
Written by: Devashri Bhujbal |

Jayalalitha has left an incredible mark in the history of Indian politics. Her journey from the glamorous world of films to the world of politics has been inspiring

Jayalalithaa birth anniversary: Significant moments that changed life of the actor to a successful chief minister

J Jayalalitha. File Pic.

One of the leaders who have left an incredible mark in the history of Indian politics is J Jayalalitha. Her journey from the glamorous world of films to the world of politics has been inspiring. Jayalalitha was fondly called 'Amma' by her supporters. 

J Jayalalitha was a prolific actor and rose to prominence in 1060's. She appeared in 140 films between 1961 and 1980, primarily in South Indian films. Jayalalitha received praise for her versatility as an actress and her dancing skills, earning the title "Queen of Tamil Cinema". However, she has also served as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu state for more than 14 long years, over six terms, from 1991 to 2016. She was also the longest-serving general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the political party she joined in 1982. 

J Jayalalitha was born on January 24, 1948. On the occasion of her 76th birth anniversary, lets take a look at the significant moments that turned a movie start to a successful a chief minister.

Influence of MGR

In Jayalalitha's career as a film star, among her frequent co-stars was M. G. Ramachandran, popularly known as 'MGR'. MGR had immense support as an actor and later as a politician. He founded the AIADMK party, and he was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu when Jayalalitha joined the party. 

After a two-decade-long career in the film industry, it was MGR who launched her political career. In many of her interviews she often said that she entered films on being asked by her mother and entered politics on request by MGR.

However, on other hand, she also denied claims that MGR, was instrumental in introducing her to politics. Her maiden public speech in 1982, was delivered at the AIADMK's political conference and was well received. Even the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and the Rajya Sabha member, Khushwant Singh attended her speech appreciated for her clarity in diction and elegant prose.

Entry in electoral politics and controversy

MGR wanted her to be a member of the Rajya Sabha because of her fluency in English. She defeated a senior DMK leader in 1984 Rajya Sabha elections. Jayalalithaa was one of the 16 special guests who were invited to participate the state dinner hosted by then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in honour of Erstwhile Yugoslavian President at Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

MGR taught her  taught her lessons in welfare politics. When he fell ill, she campaigned extensively for the party before the 1984 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election, in which the party won. Jayalalithaa was alleged to have attempted to take over the position of chief minister or the party on the pretext that his health. Following his death in 1987, the AIADMK split into two factions- one led by Jayalalitha and other by MGR's wife Janaki.

At the age of 41, Jayalalithaa entered the Assembly successfully contesting the subsequent 1989 elections on the basis of being MGR's political heir. She first woman to be elected Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu, first Indian actress and first woman to become an opposition leader in India. 

However, her journey was turbulent. Jayalalithaa was attacked by the ruling DMK members in front of the assembly speaker in 1989, when violence broke out between DMK and AIADMK MLA's after she called Karunanidhi a criminal. Jayalalitha left the Assembly with her torn saree. 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".

A successful chief minister

The AIADMK allied with the Congress. Re-elected to the assembly, she became the state's youngest chief minister, and the first woman to serve a full term. Since then she never turned back. Although engulfed with controversies through out her career, Jayalalitha kept her political career intact and introduced various schemes for the state, especially for the women and backward classes.

Jayalalitha was a resilient and determined person. Her journey was a dramatic one and several film makers have announced biopic on her. She remains to be inspiring personality, especially for women and 'Amma' (mother) for her followers. 

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