The whole state plunged into mourning after hearing to the news of demise of Ms. J Jayalalitha, the Amma of Tamil Nadu. From a humble beginning, she raised to the status of Iron Lady of Indian politics. However, the journey of Selvi Jayalalitha has not been on a smooth road but has faced several rugged terrains.
Losing her father, Mr. Jayaram who was a lawyer, at the age of 2, she had to move on to Bengaluru with her mother from her native, Melukote near Mysuru. The life later on was tough for her as she had to stay at her grandparents’ place due to the hardship her mother was facing and many days of her childhood was spent away from her mother. She had reminisced about how she missed her mother as a child, on several occasions.
She started learning Carnatic classical music and Bharatanatyam after moving to Chennai with her mother. However, she didn’t want to get into films, rather she wanted to become a lawyer. But her mother forced her to get into it. She said “I created a storm at home. I fought I wept but it had to be films”. This clearly means that she didn’t like it at all. In spite of that, she fought the odds and became a successful actress who gave 28 hit films starting from ‘Vennira Aadai’, with the then matinee idol M G Ramachandran (MGR).
In 1982, she became a member of AIADMK and became the member of Rajya Sabha in 1984. Again, politics was not her choice. MGR pulled her into politics even though she didn’t like politics. In an interview in 2009, she had said that she didn’t like politics. But she was destined to be in politics. After becoming the party member, she started accompanying MGR to public events. In 1983, she was made propaganda secretary of AIADMK.
In 1984, when MGR fell ill, R M Veerappan who was in charge of distribution of party tickets for Assembly polls denied ticket for Jayalalitha. He didn’t like her rise in politics in such a short span of time. Jayalalitha had to swallow it. After the death of her political mentor, MGR in 1987, her life was filled with lot of hurdles. She was in deep grief as she had lost a person whom she was very close to. Moments before MGR’s final journey began, Jayalalitha was kicked and pulled down from the fun carriage carrying hid mortal remains by actor Deepan, the son of younger brother of the leader’s widow Janaki Ramachandran. She had to leave the venue with deep humiliation. In her own words, “after his death, I was left to fend for myself.” He didn’t smoothen the way for me to become his successor. Though he introduced me into politics, he didn’t make anything easy for me. I had to fight and struggle my way up”.
Though people considered her as the successor of MGR, there were opponents to her inside the party. She had to lead a faction against the other faction led by Janaki Ramachandran. However, the people of Tamil Nadu backed her and made her Leader of Opposition in 1989. It was then she had to face another humiliation by the DMK leaders who pulled and torn her saree for questioning DMK supremo M Karunanidhi who was the then Chief Minister. These incidents were haunting Jayalalitha even after she became the supremo of Tamil Nadu.
Watch the video at 13.20….to hear from Jayalalitha herself
Jayalalitha walking out of Assembly, after being attacked by DMK members
After two years, she became the youngest Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu at 43. As she was caught up in scandals, she had to go to jail in 1996, by the end of her first tenure as the Chief Minister. Several cases were filed against her one after other. At this point of time, she had also thought of quitting politics. But, her life in jail made her much stronger and she bounced back. She became CM of Tamil Nadu for the second term in 2001 but it didn’t last long as her nomination was rejected as she was convicted in a land deal case. She fought again in 2002 in a by election after being acquitted by Madras High Court and became the Chief Minister for the third time. Her fourth term (2011 – 2014) was also terminated prematurely as she was convicted in an asset case and was sent to jail again. She rose to power again in 2015 for a fifth tenure by winning a by election from R K Nagar with a margin of 1. lakh votes, after her acquittal in the assets case.
When we see the life of Selvi J Jayalalitha, we see so many tough times she had to face. It is not easy for a woman to enter politics without any background. Her skills to learn quickly and to be a taskmaster made her capable to achieve such a great heights. She was determined to serve the people of her state in best possible way. She fought the odds and became successful. The whole country is mourning her death which shows that how popular she was among the people, which is definitely because of her good work.
Ms. Jayalalitha, your life is an inspiration for youngsters to fight back whenever they are pushed down. You will stay in the hearts of the people.
You can reach the author on twitter @aksharadamle