Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s Puratchi Thalaivi, Was Always In The Spotlight

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CHENNAI:  J Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and one of the most powerful women politicians the country has ever had, died on Monday in a Chennai hospital. She was 68. The chief minister had a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hours after her party the AIADMK said that doctors from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS had declared her fully recovered from the acute lung infection she was treated for since she was admitted in hospital on September 22.

  1. Jayalalithaa was lovingly called ‘Amma’ or mother by fans, supporters and workers and leaders of her party the AIADMK. She was also called Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader).
  2. Jayalalithaa had made history in May this year, when she was re-elected Chief Minister in a state which had so far given power alternately to her AIADMK and arch rival DMK.
  3. Jayalalithaa was born on February 24, 1948, in Mysore, Karnataka. She schooled at the Bishop Cotton Girls High School in Bangalore and later the Presentation Convent at Church Park in Chennai, when her mother Sandhya began a career as an actress in the Tamil film industry.
  4. The family moved to Chennai after Jayalalithaa’s father died when she was just two years old.
  5. Jayalalithaa was a good student and wanted to become a lawyer when she was young. But the family fell on hard times and she had to join the film industry at the age of 15. She acted in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and also in some Bollywood films.
  6. Her first film Chinnada Gombe in Kannada, was a big hit. Jayalalithaa starred in 28 films with superstar MG Ramachandran or MGR, who would also become her political mentor. MGR was the founder of the AIADMK.
  7. In 1982, at the age of 34, Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK, was appointed propaganda secretary and was soon nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
  8. MGR was chief minister of Tamil Nadu when he died in 1987. The next year the AIADMK split with one faction supporting MGR’s wife Janaki and the other supporting Jayalalithaa, who became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991.
  9. She won her second term in 2001 and her third five years ago, in 2011.
  10. In 2014, she was convicted in a corruption case and had to step down. Eight months later she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court and took oath again as chief minister.

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