Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa died at a hospital in Chennai on Monday night after a heart attack. 68 year old Jayalalithaa had been unwell and in hospital since September this year.
In May, she had won the state elections in Tamil Nadu to become Chief Minister for a fourth time. Following her death, one of her senior ministers O Panneerselvam has been made Chief Minister in her place. Her funeral (ceremonies held after the death of a person) was held on Tuesday and she was buried near the memorial of M G Ramachandran, a former Chief Minister of the state and Jayalalithaa’s mentor or guru.
From films to politics
The Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu have one thing in common-they were all associated with films. Jayalalithaa was no different and she became famous as a popular heroine in Tamil movies. Given the fame and power that film heroes and heroines have in the state, it was no surprise that she too made her way from the movie world to politics. In this change, she was guided by MG Ramachandran who led the AIADMK political party.
After Ramachandran’s death, Jayalalithaa led the AIADMK to victory in the 1991 elections and she became Chief Minister for the first time. Although she started many programmes for the well-being of poor people and brought in rules to reserve seats in colleges for communities that needed help, she lost popularity as people felt that she had become corrupt and had taken huge amounts of money in order to favour select persons. However she returned as Chief Minister thrice more-in 2001, 2011 and 2016.
“Amma” to all
In the last few years, she started canteens where food was available to the poor at a very low cost. She also launched schemes for low cost drinking water, free laptops for government students and low cost medicines. These were called the “Amma” schemes-named after Jayalalithaa herself who was called “Amma” or “mother” by her supporters who felt that, like a mother, she always put their needs first.
Unusually for an actress, Jayalalithaa was a brilliant student and was in fact the “Best Outgoing Student” in the year she graduated from school in Chennai. In this 1964 photo, she is seen with the trophy. She only joined the movies because her mother forced her to. She was also a trained Bharathanatyam dancer.