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For the Telugu actress, see Jayalalita.
In this Indian name, the name Jayaram is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Jayalalithaa.
J. Jayalalithaa (cropped).jpg
11th, 14th and 16th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
In office
16 May 2011 – 27 September 2014
Preceded by Karunanidhi
Succeeded by O. Panneerselvam [1]
Constituency Srirangam
In office
2 March 2002 – 12 May 2006
Preceded by O. Panneerselvam
Succeeded by Karunanidhi
Constituency Andipatti
In office
14 May 2001 – 21 September 2001
Preceded by Karunanidhi
Succeeded by O. Panneerselvam
Constituency Did not contest
In office
24 June 1991 – 12 May 1996
Preceded by President's rule
Succeeded by Karunanidhi
Constituency Bargur
Personal details
Born Komalavalli
(1948-02-24) 24 February 1948 (age 67)
Mandya, Mysore State, India
Nationality Indian
Political party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Residence Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Religion Hinduism

Jayalalithaa Jayaram (Tamil: ஜெயலலிதா ஜெயராம், pronounced [dʒɛjələlɪd̪ɑː dʒɛjəɾɑːm]; born 24 February 1948), commonly referred to as Jayalalithaa or Amma (translates as mother in English), is an Indian politician who was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991 to 1996, briefly in 2001, from 2002 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2014. She was a popular actress in Tamil cinema before her entry into politics and appeared in over 140 Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada films apart from some films in English and Hindi. She is the general secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). She is called 'Amma' ('Mother') and 'Puratchi Thalaivi' ('Revolutionary Leader') by her followers.[2]

Jayalalithaa has denied claims that she was introduced to politics by M. G. Ramachandran. She was a member of the Rajya Sabha elected from Tamil Nadu during 1984–89. Soon after the death of Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa proclaimed herself his political heir. She is the second female chief minister of Tamil Nadu after Janaki Ramachandran. She became the first incumbent chief minister in India to be disqualified from holding office due to conviction in a disproportionate assets case on 27 September 2014.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Jayalalithaa was born on 24 February 1948, at Melukote, in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district, Mysore State (now Karnataka) to Jayaram and Vedavalli in a Tamil speaking iyengar family. Her grandfather was in the service of the Mysore kingdom as a surgeon, and the prefix 'Jaya' ('the victorious') was added to the names of various family members to reflect their association with Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar of Mysore.[2] Her mother called her Komalavalli.[5]

Jayalalithaa's father died when she was two years old.[2] Her mother then moved to Bangalore, where her parents lived, with Jayalalithaa. Her mother eventually began to work as an actress in Tamil cinema, based in Chennai, having taken the screen name of Sandhya.[2] While still in Bangalore, Jayalalithaa attended Bishop Cotton Girls' School.[6] She completed her childhood education at Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park Presentation Convent or Presentation Church Park Convent) in Chennai.[7] She excelled at school and was offered a government scholarship to pursue further education.[6] She appears not to have accepted the admission offered to her at Stella Maris College, Chennai.[2] She is fluent in several languages, including Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and English.[8]

Film career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Her mother persuaded her to work in films when Jayalalithaa was 15 years old and was still in school, taking assurances from producers that shooting would take place only during summer vacations and that she would not miss her classes. Jayalalithaa acted in an English language film, Epistle, released in 1961. She made her debut as the lead actress in Kannada films while still in school, age 15, in Chinnada Gombe (1964).[2] Jayalalithaa's debut in Tamil cinema was a role in Vennira Aadai (1965), directed by C. V. Sridhar. The following year, she made her debut in Telugu cinema with Manushulu Mamathalu. She was the first heroine to appear in skirts in Tamil films.[9] She acted in one Hindi film called Izzat, with Dharmendra as her male costar in 1968.[10]

Later career[edit]

In 1972, Jayalalithaa acted opposite Sivaji Ganesan in Pattikada Pattanama, which went on to win the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil in 1973. It fetched her a Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Her performances in Suryakanthi and Chandradhoyam were critically acclaimed and the former won her another Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 1973. The same year she acted in the Telugu Sri Krishna Satya and won her third Filmfare Award for Best Actress.[11] Her other films with Sivaji Ganesan include Galatta Kalyanam and Deiva Magan; the latter holds the distinction of being the first Tamil film to be submitted by India for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[12] She continued pairing up with younger actors such as Ravichandran and Jaishankar in a number of films such as Vairam and Baghdad Perazhagi.[13][14] She later appeared in Kandan Karunai and other Tamil films.[15] Her last film was the 1980 picture Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal.[10] During the 1960s and 1970s, she starred opposite M. G. Ramachandran in a number of successful films, including Aayirathil Oruvan, Kavalkaran, Adimai Penn, Engal Thangam, Kudiyirundha Koyil, Ragasiya Police 115 and Nam Naadu.[10][16]

Political career[edit]

Early political career[edit]

Jayalalithaa claims that Ramachandran, who had been chief minister for the state since 1977, was instrumental in introducing her to politics.[2][17] In 1982, she joined the AIADMK, which was founded by Ramachandran.[18] Her maiden public speech, "Pennin Perumai" ("The Greatness of a Woman"), was delivered at the AIADMK's political conference in the same year.[19] In 1983, she became propaganda secretary for the party and was selected as its candidate in the by-election for the Tiruchendur Assembly constituency.[18]

Ramachandran wanted her to be a member of the Rajya Sabha because of her fluency in English.[20] Jayalalithaa was nominated and elected to that body in 1984 and retained her seat until 1989.[21] Her success in her role as propaganda secretary caused resentment among high-ranking members of the party. By engineering a rift between her and Ramachandran, these members influenced Ramachandran 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.[2]

In 1984, when Ramachandran was incapacitated due to a stroke, Jayalalithaa was 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.[22] She successfully led the campaign in the 1984 general elections, in which the ADMK allied with the Congress.[21] Following his death three years later, the AIADMK split into two factions: one supported his widow, Janaki Ramachandran, and the other favoured Jayalalithaa. 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. However, Rajiv Gandhi used Article 356 of the Constitution of India to dismiss the Janaki-led government and impose president's rule on the state.[2][23][24]

Jayalalithaa contested the subsequent 1989 elections on the basis of being MGR's political heir.[25][26]

Leader of the Opposition, 1989[edit]

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 seats and 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.[21] On 25 March 1989, quoted as one of the worst incidents to have happened in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, there was heavy violence inside the house among the ruling DMK party members and the opposition. There were Jayalilatha tearing the budget report to be read by the ruling party. Mikes were broken and shoes were thrown by Jayalalithaa. At the peak of the situation, when Jayalalithaa was about to leave the house, which is seen by a section of the media as "not until I enter the house as a Chief Minister". Though some sections of media term it as a theatrics launched by Jayalalithaa, it got a lot of media coverage and sympathy from the public.[27][28][29] During the 1989 general elections, the ADMK allied with the Congress party and had a significant victory. The ADMK, under her leadership, won the by-elections in Marungapuri, Madurai East and Peranamallur assembly constituencies.[21]

First term as Chief Minister, 1991[edit]

In 1991, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi days before the elections, her alliance with the Indian National Congress enabled her to ride the wave of sympathy that gave the coalition victory.[30][31] The ADMK alliance with the Congress won 225 out of the 234 seats contested and won all 40 constituencies in the centre.[21] 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.[21][24] In 1992, her government introduced the "Cradle Baby Scheme". At that time the ratio of male to female in some parts of 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.[32] Her party had 26 elected members to the assembly. Her government was the first to introduce police stations operated solely by women. She introduced 30 per cent 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.[33]

Loss of power, 1996[edit]

The Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK lost power in the 1996 elections, when it won 4 of the 168 seats that they contested.[34] Jayalalithaa was herself defeated by the DMK candidate in Bargur Constituency.[35] The outcome has been attributed to an anti-incumbency sentiment and several allegations of corruption and malfeasance against her and her ministers.[31][34] 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.[2][36][37] Subsequently, in November 2011, Jayalalithaa told a special court than the entire Rs. 6 Crore expenses associated with the wedding were paid by the family of the bride.[38]

Second term as Chief Minister, 2001[edit]

Jayalalithaa was barred from standing as a candidate in the 2001 elections because she had been 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 had not been resolved at the time of the elections.[39] 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.[24]

Her appointment was legally voided in September 2001 when the Supreme Court ruled that she could not hold it whilst convicted of criminal acts.[39] 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.[24][40]

Subsequently, in March 2002, Jayalalithaa assumed the position of Chief Minister once more, having been acquitted of some charges by the Madras High Court.[41] 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 margin.[42] 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.[43]

Jayalaithaa and US Secretary Hillary Clinton

Third term as Chief Minister, 2011[edit]

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 minister of Tamil Nadu for the third time on 16 May 2011, having been elected unanimously as the leader of the AIADMK party subsequent to those elections.[44] On 19 December 2011, Jayalalithaa expelled her long-time close aide Sasikala Natarajan and 13 others from the AIADMK. Most of the party members welcomed her decision,[45] and on 2 February 2012, Tehelka magazine claimed that Natarajan and some of her relatives were conspiring to kill her by poisoning her food over a period of time.[46] The matter was resolved by 31 March, when Sasikala Natarajan was reinstated as a party member after issuing a written apology.[47]

Disproportionate Assets case, 2014[edit]

On 27 September 2014, Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in jail and fined Rs 100 crore 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 member of Bharatiya Janata Party) on 20 August 1996 on the basis of 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 Rs 10 crores each. Special Judge John Michael D'Cunha convicted her to owning assets to the tune of Rs 66.65 crores (which includes 2,000 acres of land, 30 kg 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 at a makeshift court in the Parappana Agrahara prison complex in the presence of Jayalalithaa and the other accused. She has automatically been disqualified from the post of CM and legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu and is the first Indian chief minister to be disqualified.[48] O. Panneerselvam, a minister in her party, was succeeded as the Chief Minister on 29 September 2014.[49] On 17 October 2014, Supreme Court granted two months bail and suspended her sentence in Disproportionate Assets Case.They have to appeal the petition on or before 18th December 2014.[50]

Legislative career[edit]

Elections contested[edit]

Year Constituency Result Vote percentage Opposition Candidate Opposition Party Opposition vote percentage
1989 Bodinayakkanur Won 54.51 Muthumanokaran DMK 27.27[51]
1991 Bargur, Kangayam Won 69.3 T. Rajhendher TMK 29.34[35]
1996 Bargur Lost 43.54 E. G. Sugavanam DMK 50.71[35]
2001 Andipatti,
Nomination rejected[52]
2002 Andipatti Won 58.22 Vaigai Sekar DMK 27.64[42]
2006 Andipatti Won 55.04 Seeman DMK 36.29[53]
2011 Srirangam Won 58.99 N Anand DMK 35.55[54][55]


Jayalalithaa has received several honorary doctorates and other honours, beginning with an award from the University of Madras in 1991.[56][57][58] In 1972 she was awarded the Kalaimamani by the Government of Tamil Nadu.[56]


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
First Tenure

Succeeded by
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

14 May 2001–16 September 2001
Succeeded by
O. Panneerselvam
Preceded by
O. Panneerselvam
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Second Tenure

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Third Tenure

Succeeded by
O. Panneerselvam