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Why she was fondly Remembered as the Iron-Lady of Indian Politics!

Mar 18, 2019

Why she was fondly Remembered as the Iron-Lady of Indian Politics!
Why she was fondly Remembered as the Iron-Lady of Indian Politics! | Photography: Awaaznation

The Iron lady, the queen of hearts, the legendary phoenix bouncing back to life after every challenge, the most charismatic female personality who single-handedly ruled the male-dominated world....these phrases would not fit anyone other than the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Jayalalitha Jayaraman, fondly called as "Amma" or "Puratchi Thalaivi" by the people of Tamil Nadu.

She was awarded Kalaimamani award by Tamil Nadu government for her contribution in arts.
She was awarded Kalaimamani award by Tamil Nadu government for her contribution in arts.

The reign of this female star ended when she died at the age of 68, on 4th of December 2016, due to a massive cardiac arrest in Apollo hospitals creating a void not just in Tamil Nadu, but in the entire Indian political arena.

The lady leader has not only created an indomitable mark in the history of Indian politics but has also set an example for millions of women who aspire to achieve in a male dominated scenario.

It is not feasible to fit the accomplishments of Amma in a 600-word-long article. But in this article, we try our best to bring out the highlights.

An effective start

Unlike the female pioneers like Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo Bandaranaike who come from political backgrounds, Jayalalitha comes from a middle-class family where her mother was a small-time actor.

She was an extremely bright student but was forced to discontinue her studies and take up acting due to her family's financial instabilities.

She was under the mentorship of late actor-cum politician M.G.Ramachandran who roped her in movies and later into politics. Dr J was an exemplary actress, well versed in dancing and singing. Her ability to speak multiple languages especially English won her a lot of applause and recognition. She was awarded Kalaimamani award by Tamil Nadu government for her contribution in arts. Pairing with all the lead actors of south including MGR, Shivaji and NTR, Jayalalitha became the most well-paid actress of her time. 

Amma canteens (which availed food at an affordable price).
Amma canteens (which availed food at an affordable price).

She has featured in around 140 films out of which 119 has been declared as blockbusters.

Entry into politics

In 1982, former CM of Tamil Nadu, MGR introduced Jaya to AIADMK party when she delivered her first speech on "Penin Perumai" (greatness of a woman). She later became the Propaganda secretary of AIADMK due to her eloquence in English. Following the death of MGR, she won the conflict between his wife Janaki and took over the general secretaryship of AIADMK. She was the first woman to become the elected opposition leader of Tamil Nadu.

In the elections that followed in 1991, JJ won the polls by winning 224 seats out of 234 and became the second female CM of TN after Janaki and the only female to complete a full five-year term in the seat.

Not only state politics, but Dr.JJ also has won more than 35 seats out of 41 in Lok Sabha elections multiple times.

Accomplishments as a leader

1. In 2014, as a result of JJ's efforts, SC allowed Tamil Nadu to increase the water levels in Mullai Periyar dam which was a great victory for agriculturalists

2. Amma canteens (which availed food at an affordable price) and Thalikku Thangam Scheme (where gold and money was donated to poor couples) helped the needy

3. Cradle baby scheme was launched to curb the problem of female infanticide. Government hospitals were equipped better to support the female newborns.

4. She raised the groundwater levels in Tamil Nadu by imposing Rainwater harvesting scheme in the state.

5. It was during her period the sandalwood smuggler Veerappan was killed. 

Controversies

Though she was revered as the most efficient female icons in the country, her political career was subjected to a lot of controversies. 

Her estrangement with her family, involvement in scandals and lavish display of wealth in the wedding of her foster son was widely criticized by her opponents. Midnight arrest of her rival and withdrawal of support from the central government during the time of Vajpayee were some of the falls in her strategies. ?

Despite having strong rivals and committing multiple flaws in politics, she emerged out each time to grab the seat of CM in Tamil Nadu until death took her away on 5th of December 2016.

She will be remembered forever as an icon who carved a special image for herself both in arts and politics.