Jayalalithaa Jayaram (Tamil: ஜெயலலிதா ஜெயராம்) or J. Jayalalitha (as commonly referred), is a Chief Minister 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. She is popularly called Amma (mother) and Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader) by her followers. She was a popular film star in Tamil cinema and Telugu cinema before her entry into politics.

Early life

She was born in Mysore as Komalavalli in a Tamil Iyengar family. After losing her father at the age of two, her family fell into poverty.  She was initially educated at the Bishop Cotton Girls High School in Bangalore  but later she moved to Madras State (now Tamil Nadu) along with her mother Sandhya, who ventured as an actress into Tamil cinema.  She was then schooled at Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park) of Presentation Convent in Chennai.  


She excelled in academics and has claimed that she was offered a scholarship for higher studies from Government of India,  but with the guidance from her mother, young Jayalalitha moved into film industry.She started acting most of her well known hits when she was 15.

She had an elder brother named Jayakumar who died in the early 90's. He was married to Vijaya and has two children.

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 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. Her first Telugu film Manushulu Mamathalu made her famous.

In 1972, she was honoured by the Tamil Nadu government with the award Kalaimamani. She has acted opposite Dharmendra in the Hindi Movie named Izzat. Her last film was Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal in 1980. She has sung the following songs in her film career: 1. 'amma yendraal anbu' from adimaippeN (1969) Sung by J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Vaali Music by K.V. Mahadevan 2. 'Oh meri dilruba’ from sooriyakaanthi (1973) Sung by TMS & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Vaali Music by M.S. Viswanathan

3. ‘naan endraal adhu’ from sooriyakaanthi (1973) Sung by SPB & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Vaali & Randor Guy Music by M.S. Viswanathan 4. ‘kangalil aayiram’ from vandhaale maharaasi (1973) Sung by TMS & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Vaali Music by Shankar-Ganesh 5. ‘iru maangani pol’ from vairam (1974) Sung by SPB & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Kannadasan Music by T.R. Papa

6. ‘chithira mandabathil’ from anbai thedi (1974) Sung by TMS & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Kannadasan Music by M.S. Viswanathan 7. ‘thirumangalyam kolluam murai’ from thirumangalyam (1974) Sung by P.Suseela & J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Kannadasan Music by M.S. Viswanathan 8. ‘ulagam oru naaL pirandhadhu’ from thirumangalyam (1974) Sung by J. Jayalalitha Lyrics by Kannadasan Music by M.S. Viswanathan 9. ‘madrasu mailu’ from unnai sutrum ulagam Sung by J. Jayalalitha & L.R. Eswari Lyrics by Vaali Music by Shankar-Ganesh 10. ‘maaRi varum ulaginilE’ Sung by J. Jayalalitha Music by Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan


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 affair with M. G. Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR), movie star and then Chief Minister and her position as MGR's mistress helped her to become his political heir. However, the authenticity of these publications are disputable.

The tabloid magazines constantly politicised what was possibly a good friendship between MGR and Jayalalitha. On MGR's death, she was alienated by a faction of the party who chose to support MGR'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.

She accused that the then ruling party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK, Dravidian People's Party), who allegedly tried to assault her in the assembly, and there, she reportedly took an oath to enter the assembly house only as chief minister. The assault she charged included DMK leader, Durai Murugan who according to her tried to pull her sari when she obstructed, then Chief Minister Karunanidhi of presenting the 1990 state budget.

In 1991, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, just days before the elections, her alliance with Indian National Congress paid off as a sympathy wave propelled the coalition to a massive victory. She 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 DMK 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, an indication 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.

During the years out of power, she had to face a number of criminal lawsuits related to 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.

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, 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 to 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.

In 2011 state assembly election, she & her party won in many constitutency and formed the government in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalitha becomes the CM of TN for the 3rd time.

Major legislative achievements

    * Governtment 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.
    * All women police stations.
    * Rain water Harvesting Scheme, relief to water shortage.
    * 'Rural Women Self-Help Programme' benefitting lakhs of women in villages.
    * Free cycles to all graduating school students.
    * Thottil Kuzhandai Thittam initiated by J.Jayalalitha won her widespread accolades.

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.
1. 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.

   2. 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.

   3. In 1992, Chandralekha, an Indian Administrative Service officer and the chairperson of state owned Industrial Development Corporation was brutally assaulted on the roads 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.

   4. On 30 May 1995, R. Shanmugha Sundaram, an advocate belonging to DMK, was grievously injured in an attack  Allegations have been levelled against Jayalalithaa .

   5. She has constantly been at the heart of controversy over the numerous defamation suits filed against opposition leaders and members of the press, using privileges available to her in the official capacity and by using government funds. She has been accused of being highly intolerant to negative criticism.

   6. The action against the Acharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt HH Shri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal during her Chief-ministership, has been hailed in some quarters and condemned in some quarters.

   7. Action initiated against the then opposition leader and the current Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi and union ministers Murasoli Maran and T.R.Baalu all belonging to DMK, in 2004 for the Flyover scam case. and this led to widespread criticism of the action.

   8. 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 "crude use of state power". The editor of "Murasoli" - which reprinted the piece - was also arrested and sentenced to 15 days in prison.


Many people and the media feel that Jayalalitha believes in numerology and astrology; they point 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.

Buy Movie Tickets