Jaya - the 'iron lady' takes over as CM for third time

Jaya - the 'iron lady' takes over as CM for third time

Jayalalithaa was earlier Chief Minister during 1991-96 and 2001-06.
Affectionately called 'Amma', the 63-year-old Chief Minister was very particular this time in not letting the anti-DMK votes get split and went out of her way to make room for allies.
AIADMK was not at best of terms with actor-politician Vijayakant, whose DMDK was widely seen as splitting the anti-DMK votes in the 2006 Assembly and 2009 Lok Sabha elections, but Jayalalithaa reached out to him and made him join her front to ensure DMK's ouster.

Jayalalithaa, a leading actress before joining politics, took the lead in stitching a formidable alliance with DMDK, Left parties and some other minor political parties and announcing party candidates when the DMK-led front was still grappling with seat-sharing talks with its ally Congress.

Known for taking hard and tough decisions either in government or in party affairs, Jayalalithaa is described as "iron lady" and "Margaret Thatcher of Tamil Nadu" by her followers.

Brought to public life by her mentor and AIADMK founder late M G Ramachandran to help her overcome the loss of her mother Sandhya, Jayalalithaa was first appointed a member of the nutritious noon meal scheme monitoring committee in 1982.

She was chosen Rajya Sabha member as the AIADMK's representative the same year after which she never looked back.

However, Jayalalithaa was removed as the AIADMK Propaganda Secretary by MGR in 1987, when he also sacked senior leader S D Somasundram from the party for anti-party activities.

Born to Sandhya and Jayaraman in Mysore, Jayalalithaa had her education at the Church Park Covent here and at the age of 15, she took to acting to support her family.

Making her film debut in well-known Director Sridhar's "Venniraadai", she acted in more than 300 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi in a career spanning three decades.
She had paired with all top heroes including her mentor MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, but most of her films were with MGR.

When MGR was busy with governmental work, he wanted somebody to interact with the party cadre on his behalf and chose Jayalalithaa and made her party's propaganda secretary.

But MGR's move drew protests from the then party stalwarts like R M Veerappan and late S D Somasundram, who, however, later turned her followers when she first became Chief minister in 1991.

Riding on a sympathy wave generated by the assassination of Indira Gandhi and illness of MGR, Jayalalithaa, even without being asked by party seniors, jumped into electioneering for the AIADMK-Congress alliance in the 1984 assembly polls.

She was the star campaigner for the party then as MGR was flown to the United States for treatment. When MGR died in 1987, his wife Janaki became the chief minister for a brief period.

Claiming she was MGR's true political heir, Jayalalithaa split the party. In the then assembly election, her faction won 23 seats, while that of Janaki just one seat.

In the 1991 election, AIADMK and Congress forged an alliance. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi midway through the polls resulted in a sympathy wave for the Congress and anger against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which was considered a supporter of the LTTE.

After she became the chief minister, Jayalalithaa's demand for a ban on LTTE was accepted by the Centre and she dealt with the law and order problems then with an iron hand.

Known for her pro-Hindutva leanings, Jayalalithaa was one of the few political leaders barring the BJP and Shiv Sena to openly support Kar Seva at Ayodhya.

Her first tenure as Chief Minister was marred by controversies, first when she conducted her foster son V N Sudhkaran's marriage extravagantly, then later when she accused the then prime minister P V Narashmiha Rao of being 'inept'.

But in 2001, she returned to power in Tamil Nadu and almost immediately began making overtures to the BJP, much to the discomfiture of its allies. That tenure was also marred with controversy, when she sacked over one lakh government employees over night for their participation in a strike.

In the April 13 Assembly polls, the AIADMK combine won 200 of the 234 assembly seats with the party alone garnering 150 seats.