Jayalalithaa was born in Mysore (now in the state of Karnataka) at a place called Melukote on 24 February 1948. She hailed from a Tamil Iyengar family. Her father Jayaram, a lawyer by profession, passed away when she was just two years old. Consequently, Jayalalithaa and her brother Jayakumar had to shift to Bangalore along with their mother.
Her mother, Vedavathi, started working in Tamil cinema with the screen name of Sandhya. ‘Jaya’, meaning 'victorious', is a prefix used in the names of Jayalalithaa, her brother Jayakumar and many other members of their family.
This portrays the family’s association with the Wodeyar Dynasty of Mysore, which dates back to 1880-1920 when Jayalalithaa’s grandfather, a surgeon by profession, used to serve the Mysore Kingdom.
Here are some quick facts about the iconic leader's life:-
-Jayalalithaa completed her schooling from Bishop Cotton Girls' High School, Chennai, and Sacred Heart Matriculation School, also popularly known as Presentation Church Park Convent, in Chennai.
-She was a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and proficient in other dance forms like Kathak, Mohiniyattam and Manipuri as well. She had also lent her voice as a singer in some of her films.
-She was proficient in English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam. Her brother, Jayakumar, passed away in the early 1990s. Jayalalithaa remained unmarried till her death.
-In 1982, Jayalalithaa became a member of the AIADMK, a party founded by M.G. Ramachandran. It marked her entry into politics.
-She gave her first public speech, Pennin Perumai (the Pride of Women), at the conference of the party that year.
-She was made the Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK in January 1983. As she was chosen by Puratchi Thalaivar MGR, Jayalalithaa conducted her first election campaign in February 1983 for the party as a candidate in the by-election from the Tiruchendur Assembly Constituency.
-Jayalalithaa was elected for the first time as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1984 and she retained the seat till 1989.
-In 1984, MGR fell ill and moved to the USA to undergo medical treatment. In his absence, Jayalalithaa came to the forefront during the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly in Tamil Nadu in December 1984. That year, the alliance of Congress (I) and AIADMK secured a massive victory.
-Puratchi Thalaivar MGR expired in 1987, after which the AIADMK was split into two parties. The election symbol of the party, "Two Leaves", was frozen by the Election Commission of India.
-Jayalalithaa was elected as a member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989 from the Bodinayakkanur constituency.
-Jayalalithaa was the first lady to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu.
-The two factions of the party reunited in February 1989 under the leadership of Jayalalithaa, who was unanimously elected as the General Secretary of the united AIADMK.
-The election symbol of the AIADMK party, 'Two Leaves', was restored by her in 1989.
-Jayalalithaa directed the Congress (I) and AIADMK alliance to a historic victory in the 1989 General Elections to the Lok Sabha in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
-Under her leadership, the AIADMK secured victories in all the subsequent by-elections from the constituencies of Peranamallur, Madurai East and Marungapuri to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
-A landslide victory was secured by Jayalalithaa in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections held in 1991, when the party and its alliance won 225 out of the total 234 seats. She contested from two constituencies, Kangeyam and Bargur, and won both the seats comprehensively.
-On 24 June 1991, she became the youngest ever and the second female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She held the position till 12 May 1996.
- She swept the 1991 General Elections by securing a complete victory for the AIADMK and its alliance partner INC in the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, thus creating history.
-The 1998 general election of the Lok Sabha saw the AIADMK and its alliance securing 30 out of 40 seats.
-The 2001 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections saw her leading the alliance to a win of 195 seats out of the 234 and her party, the AIADMK, alone secured 132 seats.
-On 14 May 2001, Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the second time and held the post till 21 September 2001.
-In February 2002, she was elected from the constituency of Andipatti.
-She remained the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 2 March 2002 to 12 May 2006.
-The AIADMK alliance won 69 seats in the 2006 Legislative Assembly elections and Jayalalithaa served as the Leader of Opposition.
-Again in the 2011 Legislative Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK and its allies bounced back, winning 203 seats out of 234, with the AIADMK securing 150 seats on its own. The new government was formed on 16 May 2011 and Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fourth time.
-Jayaram Jayalalithaa had to step down from her post of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in September 2014 when a trial court in Karnataka held her guilty in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets (amounting to Rs. 66.65 crore) and corruption case. The court had sentenced her to a four-year jail term with a fine of Rs. 100 crore, but she challenged this verdict in Karnataka High Court.
-On 11 May 2015, the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa in the Disproportionate Assets case.
-J. Jayalalithaa was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a record-equalling fifth time on 23 May 2015.
-On 25 April 2016, she filed her nomination papers in R. K. Nagar ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
-She created a history of sorts by becoming the first chief minister since 1989 to return to power for a second consecutive term.
-She took oath as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for a record sixth time on 23 May 2016.