An icon of Indian politics, J. Jayalalithaa passed away after she suffered a heart arrest and could not recover from the shock despite best medical treatment given to her. So, the country lost a brave daughter who fought for the good and the bad in same vein and remained successful throughout her long illustrious cine career and the political world. She remained as an extraordinary, energetic, enigmatic leader and one of the charismatic popular leader of the country. She was the iron lady of the Tamil Nadu politics in general and Indian political scene in particular. She could topple Vajpayee’s government with a single vote during a vote of confidence in the floor of the house.
Paradox to her political career her filmi career sailed smoothly as she was an understudy of M. G. Ramachandran, the matinee idol of Tamil film industry. Like MGR, her welfare schemes were very popular with people and they supported her to hilt helping her to rule the second term consecutively. Her never say die attitude is a striking example for showing stubborn resistance. After Anna, it was MGR and now Amma all ruled the roost with mesmerising support from the poor and down trodden people for decades.
Before Jayalalithaa’s entry into politics in the 1980s, she was an actress who appeared in 140 films, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi languages. As a leading actress in films from 1961 to 1980, she was considered both prolific and versatile, actress performing in different roles and essaying a wide variety of characters. She was also known for her dancing skills and at one time was referred to as the ‘Queen of Tamil Cinema’. Popularly referred to as Amma, she has acted in one English film – Epistle and gave 24 box office hits with her mentor M.G. Ramachandran. She was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991 to 1996, again in 2001, then from 2002 to 2006, from 2011 to 2014 and from 2015 to 2016.
Jayalalithaa was having the knack of upsetting all odds and even the exit poll findings to make sure that she is the iron lady of the state. She came, saw and conquered the voters with her dynamism, good governance and a will to work for the people all the time. She hit the jackpot by winning the assembly elections for the second successive time and sixth time in all. Only M.G. Ramachandran could achieve this feat during his reign. She upset the applecart to defeat her arch rival M. Karunanidhi in a most convincing way and kept the carping critics quiet.
Out of four to five main exit polls only one media agency tipped that Jayalalithaa is going to retain power for the second time and that came rather right. She had introduced various schemes for the welfare of the poor under the brand name Amma. Various commodities like toothpaste, salt, water, laptops seeds, cement, grinder, fan, mobile phones were offered free or at subsidised rates. She also had started Amma canteen to provide food at cheaper rates to people. Amma call centre was launched by her to make governance more accessible to citizens. People can also watch movies at Amma cinema halls at affordable rates. Jayalalithaa was a force to reckon with in Indian politics and her death has caused a near vacuum in the country. RIP Jayalalithaa.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)