Chennai: Known as "Iron Lady" and "Margaret Thatcher of Tamil Nadu" by her followers for her hard and tough decisions, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has made a spectacular comeback in Tamil Nadu after suffering successive defeats in elections since 2004.

Affectionately called 'Amma', the 63-year-old former Chief Minister proved her mettle once again by shedding her rigid attitude and roping in smaller parties and caste-based outfits.

AIADMK was not at best of terms with Vijayakant, whose DMDK was widely seen as splitting the anti-DMK votes in the 2006 Assembly and 2009 Lok Sabha elections, till recently but the former Chief Minister cobbled up a formidable alliance with actor-politician and made him join her alliance to ensure DMK's ouster. She will now become Chief Minister for the third time.

A leading film actress before joining politics, Jayalalithaa took a lead in stitching the alliances and announcing party candidates when the DMK-led front was still struggling with seat-sharing talks with its ally Congress.

Jayalalithaa, criticised for not sharing platform with her allies, proved them wrong this elections when she jointly addressed a huge public rally in Coimbatore with a battery of
national and state leaders like CPI-M's Prakash Karat, CPI's Raja and TDP chief   Chandrababu Naidu.

In a departure from her usual mode of campaigning, the AIADMK chief this time came out of her campaign vehicle and garnered votes for her alliance candidates. Usually, she sits inside the vehicle and addresses the public.

Also, the AIADMK reached out to the people by picking up issues like power cuts and alleged rowdyism at local level to strike a chord among the public. And it worked too as it is evident from the results.

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Jaya in flashback


Introduced to public life by her mentor and AIADMK founder late M G Ramachandran (MGR), Jayalalithaa was first appointed a member of the nutritious noon meal scheme monitoring committee in 1982.

She was chosen Rajya Sabha member as the AIADMK's representative the same year after which she never looked back.

Born to Sandhya and Jayaraman in Mysore, Jayalalithaa had her education at the Church Park Covent here.

At the age of 15, she took to acting to support her family and made her film debut in well-known Director Sridhar's "Venniraadai". During her three-decaded acting career, she worked in more than 300 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi.

She disliked criticism and has filed many defamation suits against various newspapers.


Beginning of political career


When MGR was busy with the governmental work, he wanted somebody to interact with the party cadre on his behalf and chose Jayalalithaa and made her party's propaganda secretary.

Riding on a sympathy wave generated by the assassination of Indira Gandhi and illness of MGR, Jayalalithaa, even without being asked by party seniors, jumped into electioneering for the AIADMK-Congress alliance in the 1984 assembly polls.

She was the star campaigner for the party then as MGR was flown to United States for treatment. When MGR died in 1987, his wife Janaki became the chief minister for a brief
period.

Claiming she was MGR's true political heir, Jayalalithaa split the party.

In the 1991 election, AIADMK and Congress forged an alliance. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi midway through the polls resulted in a sympathy wave for the Congress and anger
against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which was considered a supporter of the LTTE.

After she became the chief minister, Jayalalithaa's demand for a ban on LTTE was accepted by the Centre and she dealt with the law and order problems then with an iron hand.

Known for her pro-Hindutva leanings, Jayalalithaa was one of the few political leaders barring the BJP and Shiv Sena to openly support Kar Seva at Ayodhya.

Her first tenure as Chief Minister was marred by controversies, first when she conducted her foster son V N Sudhkaran's marriage extravagantly, then later when she accused the then  prime minister P V Narashmiha Rao of being 'inept'.

Return to Tamil Nadu

But in 2001, she returned to power in Tamil Nadu and almost immediately began making overtures to the BJP, much to the discomfiture of its allies.

Jayalalithaa banned lottery tickets, dismissed 200,000 government employees at one go for going on a strike, stopped free power to farmers, increased the price of rice in the ration shops, cancelled ration cards of all those who earn more than Rs 5,000 per month, hiked power and bus charges, passed a law seeking to curb religious conversions, and banned
animal sacrifices in temples.

But after the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when her party was trounced by the DMK-Congress combine in all the 39 seats, she allowed animal sacrifices in temples and restored free
power supply to farmers.

JPN/Agencies