Biography of J. Jayalalithaa
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Biography of J. Jayalalithaa
Jayalalithaa Jayaram ( born 24 February 1948 ), commonly referred to as J. Jayalalitha, is the former Chief Minister and current leader of the opposition of the Government of Tamil Nadu, India. She is the incumbent General Secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ( AIADMK ), a Dravidian party in the state.
J. Jayalalithaa is called Amma ( English : Mother ) by her supporters and Puratchi Thalaivi ( English : Revolutionary Leader ) by her followers. She was a popular film star in Tamil and Telugu cinema before entering politics.
J. Jayalalithaa EarlyLife
J. Jayalalithaa was born Komalavalli in Melukote in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district, Karnataka, in a Tamil Iyengar family, native of Srirangam, Trichy. She was initially educated at the Bishop Cotton Girls’ High School in Bangalore but later moved to Madras State ( now Tamil Nadu ) along with her mother Sandhya, who ventured as an actress into Tamil cinema.
J. Jayalalithaa was then schooled at Sacred Heart Matriculation School ( popularly known as Church Park Presentation Convent ) in Chennai ( then, Madras ). She excelled in academics and has claimed that she was offered a scholarship for higher studies from the Government of India but with guidance from her mother, young Jayalalitha moved into film industry.
J. Jayalalithaa started acting most of her well known hits when she was 15. She had an older brother, Jayakumar, who died in the early 90′s. He was married to Vijaya and has two children.
J. Jayalalithaa Film Career
Prior to her venture into politics, she had a successful career in the Tamil film industry as an actress. She acted in the English language movie Epistle released in 1961 and produced by Shankar Giri, son of former president of India Dr. V. V. Giri. Chinnada Gombe, her first film in Kannada, was a major hit.
J. Jayalalithaa first Telugu film Manushulu Mamathalu made her famous. In 1972, she was honored by the Tamil Nadu State Government with the Kalaimamani award. She has acted opposite Dharmendra in the Hindi Movie Izzat. Her last film was Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal in 1980.
J. Jayalalithaa Political Career
In 1981, she joined the AIADMK and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1988, marking her entry into the Parliament of India. Her association with politics grew from her friendship with the Late M. G. Ramachandran ( popularly known as M.G.R ), a movie star and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and her position as MGR’s concubine helped her become his political heir.
On M.G.R’s death, she was alienated by a faction of the party who, instead, chose to support M.G.R’s wife, Janaki Ramachandran. Drawing on her massive popularity and her image as the “wronged woman”, in 1989, she won the elections to the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly, incidentally, becoming the first woman to be elected Leader of the Opposition.
In 1991, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, just days before the elections, her alliance with the Indian National Congress paid off as a sympathy wave propelled the coalition to a massive victory.
J. Jayalalithaa was re – elected to the legislative assembly and became the first elected woman chief minister of Tamil Nadu, serving the full tenure ( 24 June 1991 – 12 May 1996 ) ( Janaki Ramachandran technically became the first woman chief minister following her husband’s death, but she was unelected and presided over a transitional ‘caretaker’ government ).
Due to an anti – incumbency wave, and several allegations of corruption and malfeasance against her and her ministers, she lost power to the D.M.K in 1996, in a landslide defeat. All the ministers in her erstwhile cabinet, including her, were defeated in the elections and six of them even lost their deposits, meaning that they did not even secure the minimum number of votes expected of them.
She returned to power with a huge majority in the 2001 elections, having mustered a bigger coalition and defying many pre – poll predictions. In the last assembly elections held in 2006, her party had to relinquish power to the DMK government.
Controversies and Lawsuits
During her years out of power, she has had to face a number of criminal lawsuits stemming from her first term rule mostly dealing with embezzlement and monetary fraud. In 2001, a specially designated court convicted her of criminal breach of trust and of illegally acquiring governmental property belonging to TANSI, a state – run agency, and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment.
She appealed against the sentence to the Supreme Court of India. While the appeal was under judicial consideration, the conviction disqualified her from contesting the 2001 elections. However, having led her party to victory, she controversially became the Chief Minister as a non – elected member of the assembly in tamil nadu.
On 21 September 2001, a five – judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India ruled that “a person who is convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than two years cannot be appointed the Chief Minister of a State under Article 164 ( 1 ) read with ( 4 ) and cannot continue to function as such”.
Thereby, the bench decided that “in the appointment of Ms. Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister there has been a clear infringement of a Constitutional provision and that a writ of quo warranto must issue”.
In effect, her appointment as Chief Minister was declared null and invalid. Therefore, technically, she was not the Chief Minister in the period between 14 May 2001 and 21 September 2001. O. Panneerselvam, a minister in her party, was subsequently installed as the Chief Minister. However, his government was widely believed to have been puppeted and micro-managed by Jayalalithaa.
In 2003, the Supreme Court acquitted her in the specific case, for lack of conclusive evidence to convict her. This cleared the way for her to contest a mid – term poll to the Andipatti constituency, after the elected representative for the seat, gave up his membership.
Winning the election by a handsome margin, Jayalalithaa took over the Chief Ministership again. She is still a party in a few criminal litigations, from her first term rule, in the courts in the neighbouring Karnataka state.
After the 2006 assembly elections, O. Panneerselvam was elected the AIADMK legislature party leader and hence the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly after she decided not to attend the assembly except if “absolutely necessary”. However, she, by virtue of her strong control over her party, was considered to be the de – facto leader of the opposition in the state.
Later that month when all the attending AIADMK MLAs were suspended, she started attending the assembly. She was elected the legislature party leader and now ( as of 2006 ) leads the opposition in the assembly.
J Jayalalithaa allocated over 30 crore towards various measures in the police department, including creating a new Commissionerate for Tirupur district.
J Jayalalithaa launched an ambitious housing scheme for police personnel as part of her government’s resolve to provide dwelling units to all uniformed personnel.
Terming FDI in multi – brand retail as a “double – edged sword,” which needs to be handled “dexterously,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said the Centre’s recent decision was “fraught with dangers,” and her government will not permit it in the state.
Member of the Legislative Assembly ( MLA )
|From Year||To Year||Election|
|1991||1996||1991 Tamil Nadu state assembly election|
|2002||2006||2001 Tamil Nadu state assembly election|
|2011||2016||2011 Tamil Nadu state assembly election|
Major legislative Achievements
- Government Officers Strike declared illegal.
- Banning of High interest private loans.
- Completion of New Veeranam Water Supply Scheme for Chennai.
- Banning lottery tickets to encourage savings.
- Elimination of the bandit Veerappan.
- Introduction of Video conferencing in Jails and Courts, thus eliminating the need to physically bring the accused to court to extend the parole or remand every time.
- Rain water Harvesting Scheme, relief to water shortage.
- Free cycles to all graduating school students.
- Thottil Kuzhandai Thittam initiated by her won widespread accolades.
J. Jayalalithaa Criticisms
Allegations of Oppressive Style of Governance
Her detractors consider her style of governance oppressive. The following incidents are a few which are popularly held against her, to justify such claims;
• In 2003, teachers of government-run educational institutions and employees of the state government declared an indefinite strike, demanding the repeal of an act that reduced their pension benefits. Jayalalithaa’s government adopted a defiant stance [ maintaining that the reduction was necessary to strengthen the fiscal position of the government ].
A hurriedly enacted legislation enabled her to declare the strike illegal as it prevented the “maintenance of essential services” and terminate the services of the striking employees, numbering around 170,000.
There were widespread allegations of hyperaction and witch-hunt, with the police being pressed into action to target striking individuals, sometimes to the extent of storming their residences and arresting them on flimsy grounds.
The High Court and the Supreme Court of India, responding to appeals, ruled the government action legitimate but ordered the constitution of a three member Committee of High Court Judges to consider the appeals of the employees on an individual basis.
The committee, deliberating over a period of six months, ordered the reinstatement of all but a little less than 4,000 employees, and recommended minor punishment to around 6,000 employees.
Later, after her party suffered, Jayalalithaa reversed the decisions and reinstated all the dismissed employees and withdrew the penalties imposed, despite the Committee of Judges’ findings. This is widely believed to be in response to her defeat in the national elections in May 2004.
• Allegations have been raised over the veracity of claims in various criminal proceedings filed during her Chief Ministership against her detractors, including her estranged foster son V. N. Sudhakaran, accusing them of possessing narcotics.
• In 1992, Chandralekha, an Indian Administrative Service officer and the chairperson of the state owned Industrial Development Corporation, was brutally assaulted on the streets of Chennai, and acid thrown at her face.
It has been alleged that this was due to her refusal to toe Jayalalithaa’s line in the affair of disinvestment in SPIC, a joint sector company. An arrested suspect in this case, Surla, alleged that he did it under instructions from Jayalalithaa and her close aide Sasikala Natarajan.
• She has constantly been at the heart of controversy over the numerous defamation suits filed against the opposition leaders and members of the press, using privileges available to her in the official capacity using government funds. She has been accused of being highly intolerant to negative criticism.
• Her actions against the Acharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, His Holiness Shri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, during her Chief – ministership, has been hailed in some quarters and condemned in others.
• Actions initiated against the then opposition leader and the current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, and union ministers Murasoli Maran and T.R.Baalu, all belonging to DMK, in 2004, for the Flyover scam case, led to widespread criticisms of the action.
• Orders were given to arrest the editors of The Hindu, a leading newspaper based in Chennai, for publishing an editorial entitled ‘Rising Intolerance’ that criticized her as a “crude use of state power”. The editor of “Murasoli” – the magazine that reprinted the piece – was also arrested and sentenced to 15 days in prison.
Many people and the media think that Jayalalitha believes in numerology and astrology pointing to her name change from “Jayalalitha” to “Jayalalithaa” as being directly borne out of such a belief. Press reports too have mentioned her faith in astrology and numerology, stating that she consults astrologers before taking important political decisions.
Awards and Degrees
|1972||Kalaimamani award by the Government of Tamil Nadu|
|1991||University of Madras awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature|
|1992||Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Science|
|1993||Madurai Kamaraj University awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters|
|2003||Tamil Nadu Agricultural University awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Science and the Bharathidasan University, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters|
|2005||Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws|
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