Jayalalithaa: a political career with sharp rises and steep falls

Six-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalithaa's career saw many ups and downs — a timeline

December 06, 2016 12:14 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:48 pm IST

CHENNAI/TAMIL NADU/19/05/2016:  A parrot 'oracle' picks a photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa as the winner after the 2016 Assembly poll results at the AIADMK's party headquarters on Thursday.  Photo: V. Ganesan.

CHENNAI/TAMIL NADU/19/05/2016: A parrot 'oracle' picks a photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa as the winner after the 2016 Assembly poll results at the AIADMK's party headquarters on Thursday. Photo: V. Ganesan.

June 5, 1982: Jayalalithaa joins the AIADMK saying that Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran was instrumental in introducing her to politics. She made her first speech on ' Pennin Perumai (greatness of a woman). She was soon appointed as a member of the high-level committee overseeing the Chief Minister's Nutritious Noon Meal Scheme.

March 1983: Jayalalithaa is the propaganda secretary of the AIADMK.

March 12, 1984: Jayalalithaa is one among three AIADMK candidates to file their nominations in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu. M.G. Ramachandran wanted her to become a member of the Rajya Sabha because of her English skills. Her nomination is proposed by the Assembly Speaker, K. Rajaram. She is elected and remains a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1984-1989. She is elected Deputy Leader of the party's parliamentary group.

May 25, 1984 : Jayalalithaa resigns as Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK but her resignation is not accepted by MGR. On August 20, 1984, she writes to him again, urging him to accept her resignation, saying that in recent months an impression had been created that only she was responsible for all the confusion and ruptures in the party. MGR accepts her resignation subsequently.

January January 20, 1985: In an interview with The Hindu , Jayalalithaa speaks about her removal from the deputy leadership of the AIADMK Parliamentary Party at a time when MGR was hospitalised in New York. “If Mr. M. G. Ramachandran was perfectly all right and was in full possession of mental faculties and was able to understand questions and answer them and gave instructions and orders, she asked, ‘why then are these leaders afraid to let me meet him’.” In the days that followed she alleged that Mr. MGR was not aware of what was being said or done in his name and that a small group of people were manipulating his condition for their own benefit. September 5, 1985: M. G. Ramachandran restores Jayalalithaa as Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK, a position which she lost a year ago. December 25, 1987 : Jayalalithaa is humiliated at MG Ramachandran’s funeral procession. After the death of MGR, the AIADMK splits into two factions, one led by MGR's wife Janaki Ramachandran and the other by Jayalalithaa January 1, 1988 : Jayalalithaa assumes General Secretaryship of the AIADMK.  

January 24, 1989 : Jayalalithaa resigns her membership of the Rajya Sabha after her election to the State Assembly, contesting from Bodinayakkanur. The Jayalalithaa-led faction wins only 27 seats and her party becomes the largest opposition party in the State Assembly.

February 9, 1989 : She becomes the first woman to be the elected Leader of the Opposition.

February 1989: she reunites the two factions of the AIADMK and restores the "Two Leaves" symbol. At one stage she sought to renounce politics and retire. Her sending in her resignation served as a shock therapy just as it used to be in the days of her political mentor MGR, and that brought greater cohesion among the party cadre and leaders.

March 25, 1989 : Jayalalithaa is assaulted by ruling DMK members in front of the Assembly Speaker. She left the Assembly in her torn saree. She swears that she will not return to the House as long as the DMK president, Mr. Karunanidhi, is in power.

1989 also marks Jayalalithaa’s entry into national politics. The AIADMK alliance wins in the Lok Sabha Election, with 39 of the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

1991: Following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur, Jayalalithaa partners with the Congress party in the Assembly elections and the coalition of AIADMK-Congress sweeps the polls by winning 224 out of 234 Assembly seats and all 39 Lok Sabha seats. In an interview with The Hindu during the election campaign Jayalalithaa promises that her government “will be a government of compassion”, restoring MGR’s rule.

June 25, 1991: Jayalalithaa is sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu with the largest number of members behind her in the State Assembly. The Tamil Nadu Assembly also has the largest number of women members — 25, belonging to the AIADMK and five to the Congress

1992 : Ms. Jayalalithaa introduces the "Cradle Baby Scheme" to prevent female foeticide. This scheme is extended up to 2011. Her government is the first to introduce police stations operated solely by women. She introduces 30 per cent quota for women in all police jobs and establishes as many as 57 all-women police stations.

September 7, 1995: She conducts a lavish wedding to her 'foster son' V.N. Sudhakaran, the nephew of her close aide Sasikala, with thespian action SIvaji Ganesan's granddaughter. The extravanganza earned numerous controversy, especially over her income.

May 9,1996 : Jayalalithaa is defeated in Bargur constituency. She resigns as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, following the party’s defeat in the Assembly polls by the DMK. August 27, 1996 : Jayalalithaa snaps ties with her close aide Sasikala and disowns her 'foster son.' December 7, 1996 : Jayalalithaa is arrested and remanded to 30-day judicial custody in connection with the colour TV scam. Six cases are filed against her at the time, among them the “Pleasant Stay Hotel” case, the TANSI land deal case, and the disproportionate assets case. 1998: AIADMK and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) forges alliance in the State marking the entry of the party to Tamil Nadu.

April 17, 1999: Jayalalithaa masterminds the fall of the BJP coalition government led by Prime Mminister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by withdrawing the AIADMK’s support in a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha.

May 30, 2000 : She is acquitted in the Colour TV case on May 30, 2000 by a special court and the High Court upholds the order of the lower court. February 2, 2000 : Jayalalithaa is convicted in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case. Found guilty under two counts, the AIADMK general secretary is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000 for each count. The High Court suspends her sentence. October 10, 2000 : Jayalalithaa and her associate Sasikala are convicted and sentenced by a special court, to three years and two years rigorous imprisonment in two 'TANSI land deal' cases. May 14, 2001: Election Commission rejects Jayalalithaa's nomination. Despite that, she becomes the Chief Minister for the second time. Her appointment is legally voided when the Supreme Court rules that she cannot hold it whilst convicted of criminal acts.

September 21, 2001 : Jayalalithaa resigns as Chief Minister and nominates O. Panneerselvam as her successor. In December, the Madras High Court acquits her in the TANSI case and the Coal import case.

February 2002: Jayalalitha wins the Andipatti Assembly bypolls with a handsome margin and assumes the position of Chief Minister. During her tenure she forms India's first company of female police commandos. November, 2003: SC upholds her acquittal in TANSI case, but asks her to atone for buying TANSI property in violation of the Code of Conduct for Ministers and return it to the PSU.

2004 : The AIADMK-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the Lok Sabha election loses the general election.

2006: Jayalalithaa wins from Andipatti, but her party loses to DMK. She took over the Leader of Opposition post from O. Panneerselvam, after all MLAs of AIADMK were suspended during an Assembly proceeding.

May 16, 2011 : The AIADMK wins the 13-party alliance in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections and Jayalalithaa is sworn in as the Chief Minister for the third time. Ms. Jayalalithaa also made a decision in this year to expel her long-time aide Sasikala Natarajan and 13 others from the AIADMK. Months later Sasikala was taken back into Poes Garden, Jayalalithaa's residence.

2011-16 : She introduces several welfare measures with the brand name 'Amma', such as Amma Water, Amma Pharmacy, Amma Unavagam and so on.

2012: Ms. Jayalalithaa, along with Biju Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress supports P.A. Sangma's candidature for Presidential elections, even though Congress and BJP supported Pranab Mukherjee. However on the day of polls, many AIADMK leaders voted for Mr. Mukherjee.

September 2014 : Ms. Jayalalithaa is sentenced to four years in jail and fined Rs. 100 crores by the Special Court in Bangalore in the disproportionate assets case. She loses CM post once again. Mr. Panneerselvam is elected as Chief Minister.

2016 : Once again, she is sworn in as the Chief Minister, having been elected from Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar in the bypolls with a landslide victory. She is one of the few Chief Ministers to be elected consecutively twice.

In her political career, Ms. Jayalalithaa faced nine elections and has won seven. In 1972, Ms. Jayalalithaa was awarded the Kalaimamani by the Government of Tamil Nadu. She also received honorary doctorates and other honours, beginning with an award from the University of Madras in 1991.

Key dates:

First tenure : 24.6.1991 – 12.5.1996

In 1991, the AIADMK-Congress alliance won 225 seats based on a sympathy wave arising out of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination  

Second tenure : 14.5.2001 – 21.9.2001

In the 2001 polls, her nomination was rejected as she was convicted in a land deal case. She was later acquitted of all the charges  

Third tenure : 2.3.2002 – 12.5.2006

In March 2002, she assumed the office of CM after winning the by-election in Andipatti after the Madras HC acquitted her in two cases  

Fourth tenure : 16.5.2011 – 27.9.2014

Her fourth term as CM was ended by her conviction in an assets case in 2014. She was sent to jail, and this led to her disqualification  

Fifth tenure : 23.5.2015 – 16.5.2016

On May 23, 2015, she was sworn in  CM after her acquittal in the assets case. In June 2015, she won a by-election from  R.K.Nagar by a margin of 1.6 lakh votes

Sixth tenure : 23.5.2016 - Present

Leader of the Opposition:

9.2.1989 – 1.12.1989

29.5.2006 – 13.5.2011

Rajya Sabha Member:

3.4.1984 – 28.1.1989

Legislative Assembly Member:

27.1.1989 – 30.1.1991

24.6.1991 – 12.5.1996

2.3.2002 -11.5.2006


23.5.2015 – till date

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