Amma: 50 shades of good bad and ugly

From a petite, young face that graced the silver screen to the sombre one having seen many ups and downs, Jayalalithaa has definitely come a long, long way. From a star-struck young girl, to being the ‘Amma’ of several staunch followers, Jayalalithaa’s transformation has been nothing short of a plot worth a book or movie.

While there have been big strides covered by her, the setbacks have made regular appearances as well. Today, as she was sworn in for the fifth time, her journey so far has been peppered with many headline-making moments some good, some bad, some ugly.

She was a revolutionary, she has been being behind bars. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that Amma has seen it all. Jayalalithaa, who’s appeared in over 120 Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada films, was the first one to appear in skirts in Tamil films. From that to now being addressed as Amma seems a rather gradual transition.

She was the second female chief minister of Tamil Nadu after Janaki Ramachandran and 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. But then, she also became the first incumbent CM in India to be disqualified from holding office due to conviction in a disproportionate assets case on 27 September 2014. It’s been extremes.

Jayalalithaa, in her early years, had no political aspirations. In fact, after her father passed away when she was two years old, her mother took up acting as a career, performing under the name of Sandhya. And even though the acting bug never really bit her, it was her mother who nudged her in that direction, She started off very young, at the age of 15, when her mother would make her act during her vacations.

Her first tryst with the silver screen happened with the Kannada movie Chinnada Gombe (1964), after which she made her debut in the Tamil film industry with Vennira Aadai (1965) and with Manushulu Mamathalu (1966) in the Telugu industry.

Her political career began in 1982, when she joined the AIADMK, which was founded by Ramachandran, former Tamil Nadu CM. In 1984, Ramachandran suffered from a massive stroke, opening doors for her, after which she was elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989 as a representative of the Bodinayakkanur (State Assembly Constituency). With a 27-seat win, she became the first woman to be elected Leader of the Opposition.

Post this, in 1989, the two factions of ADMK merged and they unanimously accepted Jayalalithaa as their leader. When her political career took off smoothly, she became the wonder woman of Indian politics. But then, one incident was enough to mar her. In March 1989, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly witnessed something that should have never happened. Following heavy violence inside the house. DMK assaulted her and molested her, forcing her to leave the Assembly in her her torn saree.

This helped her gain massive sympathy, thanks to which, she was re-elected to the assembly, becoming 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.

However, the hunky dory patch came to an abrupt standstill when AIADMK lost power in the 1996 elections and Jayalalithaa was barred from standing as a candidate in the 2001 elections because she had been found guilty of criminal offences.

Did this stop her from realising her political ambitions? No.

In March 2002, Jayalalithaa became the CM again, the Madras High Court acquitting her.

In April 2011, she became CM for the third time, having been elected unanimously as the leader of the AIADMK party subsequent to those elections

However, in September 2014, she was put behind bars for four years and fined Rs 100 crore after being convicted in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case that was launched by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy.

May 2015 brought in another golden patch for her as a special Bench of the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges in the disproportionate assets case.

Now, she is the Chief Minister, for the fifth time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here