Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jayalalitha Jayaram: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma. A Life of Tragedies, Hubris, Victories and Downfall.

The conviction of Jayalalitha Jayaram, a sitting Chief Minister, for amassing wealth beyond known sources of income and her subsequent unseating as Chief Minister, is without parallel in Indian political history. The conviction has sent the state into a spiral of constitutional crisis and stirred the political scene just when Jayalalitha seemed to reach the peak of her political career bagging almost all the seats in the just concluded parliamentary elections when Tamil Nadu, contrary to the most of the country, did not vote for BJP.

Jayalalitha had never known peace in her life ever since her idyllic school life was rocked by her mother demanding that she start acting in films lest the family, until then rich, comes to the streets. A nubile teenage girl was thrust into the ugly chauvinist world of films. Her first movie was rated 'Adults only' because she had appeared in sleeveless blouses and drenched under a waterfall, for a song, thus too steamy for the staid and conservative 60s. She, as the story goes, could not watch her own debut movie in theaters because she was not an adult. Also, her character in the movie is that of a young widow, a very inauspicious role for a debut film. One can only imagine the turmoil of a teenager, who scored a state rank in her Matriculate exam, in being subjected to such lecherousness.

Jayalalitha Jayaram
In due course the reigning demigods of Tamil filmdom, MGR and Sivaji, had Jayalalitha as heroine in many of their movies. Her pairing with MGR was a hugely successful one with a chemistry that set tongues wagging and was so to later be the reason for a more bitter phase of her life, politics. In those days male chauvinism reigned supreme in the sets of a Tamil movie. Whenever MGR entered the film set all actors, especially the actresses, had to stand up. That was the least bothersome of what the actresses had to endure.

When her movie career started to wane she was in love with an already married fellow actor Shoban Babu. A very famous interview by her in those days had her viewing Babu from the balcony of the her leafy Poes garden bungalow through a binocular. She had, with uncharacteristic candor for those days, told the interviewer that she and Babu were 'going steady'. The photo and quote would be used repeatedly by her political opposition in later years to ridicule her. Yet again her life was not to be decided by her. MGR, who felt his own popularity was waning, decided to rope in his favorite heroine to be his party's propaganda secretary. Jayalalitha came out of a sort of retirement to dance in the World Tamil Conference convened by MGR. In later years her political enemies, all male, would chucklingly ridicule her that she was a 'danseuse'.



Jayalalitha became an extra-constitutional authority as the party's propaganda secretary. Though women politicians have existed in Tamil Nadu, including MGR's own cabinet, none had the charisma, the proximity to MGR and therefore the power as Jayalalitha did. When she addressed meetings no other party functionary, especially a male, would be seated next to her. It was said that camera men from new organizations were instructed on where they could photograph her from lest any unintended  unflattering pose be captured. When Khushbu resigned from DMK a popular photo that did the rounds on Facebook was one of her bending, with folded hands, in front of Karunanidhi in an unedifying angle. Perils of being a woman politician are many.

Again, Jayalalitha's world was rocked when her mentor and protector MGR fell ill suddenly in 1984, barely a few years since her debut into the political world. MGR's old acolytes, none of whom had any inkling of respect or regard for Jayalalitha, became a circle of coterie and she was left out in the cold. MGR returned from Brooklyn USA, a battered man. His oath of office ceremony was held in-camera. Those were Jayalalitha's years of political wilderness. On Dec 24th 1987 MGR passed away in his sleep.

MGR's body was kept in state at Rajaji hall for public display. Jayalalitha planted herself firmly at the head of MGR's corpse in full glare of TV relays. It was rumored that relatives of MGR's wife and others, annoyed at Jaya hugging the limelight and sending a not too subtle message on who will carry on the leadership, tried to dislodge her from the spot by pinching her. Later Jayalalitha committed a snafu by getting onto the gun carriage that was carrying MGR's corpse for the funeral rites. She pushed down headlong, again, in the full glare of TV live relay.

MGR's party was split with one section headed by his wife and yesteryear actress Janaki with the other headed by his protege, and some would say his romantic interest, Jayalalitha. Male political leaders of Janaki's faction freely indulged in innuendoes and insinuations against Jayalalitha that crossed all borders of decency. One Janaki supporters went to the extent of saying "when we see Janaki we feel like folding our hands in respect but not so for Jayalalitha" (the real quote was rumored to be even more objectionable). In the following election Karunanidhi, who had been frozen out of power for over a decade thanks to MGR's legendary charisma, returned to power. Though MGR's fractured party was defeated it was Jayalalitha who emerged victorious with far more seats than Janaki's faction thus eliciting the mantle of MGR to lead his party.

Jayalalitha entered another period of wilderness. During those years she endured withering sexism from her male opponents. Ridiculing her habit of appearing on the balcony of her home and waving to her supporters Kalimuthu coined the phrase "balcony damsel". He'd later grovel before her to become speaker of the assembly. It was during this time that she suffered a serious accident.

When Karunanidhi rose to present the annual budget Jayalalitha objected that a 'criminal should not read out the budget'. In 1979 when Indira Gandhi visited Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi's DMK had staged a black flag demonstration which had turned violent and Indira Gandhi was injured. Asked about Mrs Gandhi's bloody injuries Karunanidhi obscenely retorted that a woman could bleed for other reasons. A case of attempt to murder had been registered against Karunanidhi and was still not closed when he was elected CM in 1988. Enraged by Jayalalitha's charge Karunanidhi reportedly told her to "go speak to Shoban Babu". Now an angered Jayalalitha reportedly charged her  party men to snatch the budget copies from Karunanidhi's hands. At this point bedlam ensued. Jayalaitha exited the assembly disheveled and shaken. She later addressed reporters in the same state setting the rumor mills afire. It was rumored that a senior member of Karunanidhi's party had attempted to disrobe and humiliate her.

Dravidian party members, many of whom, including Karunanidhi, were bigamous were notorious for being disrespectful towards women. Their patron saint C.N. Annathurai, when asked about his dalliance with an actress, gave a repartee "neither is she a chaste woman, nor am I a saint who renounced all". Asked about rumors regarding a woman claiming him to be her husband Karunanidhi gave the famous reply, referring to his second wife Rajathi as "mother of my daughter Kanimozhi". DMK party speaker Vetrokondan and others like him were known to indulge in not just double entendre but plain ribaldry concerning a childless MGR and spinster Jayalalitha in their speeches (see a sample of Vetrikondan speech here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-XIvFJaLJ0. It was a culture that both principal parties indulged in freely. ADMK party speakers then repaid in kindness with the predictable fodder of Karunanidhi's marriages. Such was the culture spawned by Dravidian party politics. Later in Jayalalitha's years a stable of speakers that included cine-actor S.S. Chandran and others kept up the tradition.

Prodded by Jayalalitha the Tamil Nadu government was dismissed using Article 356 by the pusillanimous and toady Chandrasekhar government at the center. Jaya administered to Karunanidhi in 1991 the medicine he had given to MGR in 1980. The subsequent election saw an earthquake when Rajiv Gandhi was murdered in a sleepy town in the outskirts of Chennai. Shocked by an assassination in their soil the Tamil voter punished the DMK, a party seen as hand in glove and sympathetic to the murderous separatist organization LTTE that had carried out the cold blooded assassination.

I remember Prannoy Roy's election day special vividly. The announcement flashed "DMK decimated. Karunanidhi trailing". Karunanidhi had never lost an election personally ever. He had contested from the Harbor constituency. Speaking at Kalimuthu's election rally, who was contesting from Kadaladi, Karunanidhi punned on their respective constituencies "கடலாடி வா. துரைமுகத்தில் காத்திருக்கிறேன்". Kalimuthu lost and Karunanidhi limped to victory with a lead of just under 1000 votes. For the next 5 years, as Jayalalitha had done earlier after being assaulted, Karunanidhi never stepped into the Tamil Nadu assembly.

Unlike MGR and Karunanidhi Jayalalitha lacked any political grooming and was catapulted by turn of events into ruling 40 million people. Her first reign 1991-96 was absolute disaster marked by tyranny and corruption. Taj Coromandel was ransacked just because T.N. Seshan, the former election commissioner and one who had said something critical of her, had stayed there. ADMK women's wing staged strip teases in court complexes to intimidate Subramanian Swamy who had launched a legal crusade against Jayalalitha after his associate was subject to a acid attack. Irked by her penchant to travel with a cavalcade of 1000 cars her own supporters Cho Ramasamy quipped "அவர் ஐயங்கார் இல்லை ஆயிரம் கார்". Celebrating an auspicious occasion Jayalalitha and her confidant Sasikala bathed in the holy waters of a Kumbakonam temple when nearly 200 devotees died in a stampede due to security arrangements. Consumer advocate K.M. Vijayan who was en-route to the airport to go to Delhi for arguing against Tamil Nadu's oppressive 69% quota system of reservation was attacked and maimed for life. DK's Veeramani later celebrated Jayalalitha as the protector of social justice.

Subramanian Swamy sought the governor's permission to prosecute her for buying government land, in violation of rules, on behalf of a company that she was a partner of. The governor refused to oblige. Later Jayalalitha would malign the governor, on the floor of the assembly, as having tried to sexually assault her.

The Tamil Nadu assembly became an ugly spectacle of ministers prostrating at her feet and singing her praises without fail whenever they got up to speak. In a shocking episode the newly elected speaker, Sedapatti Muthiah, prostrated at Jayalalitha's feet right inside the assembly. In another shocking episode, during a function, Jayalalitha sat on the speaker's chair while her confidante Sasikala, not even an elected member of the body, sat on the deputy speaker's chair.

The nadir of Jayalalitha's first tenure was the ostentatious Rs 100 crore marriage that she conducted for an 'adopted son', a relative of Sasikala. The bride was veteran thespian and yesteryear film colleague Sivaji Ganesan's grand daughter. Jayalalitha and Sasikala appeared bedecked in jewelry from head to toe. Photos of their grandeur was splashed in TV channels and news papers including international press. The marriage spectacle angered many who lived in grinding poverty. That too seeing Sasikala who had no constitutionally guaranteed political power in such corruption funded finery angered many. Sasikala and her family had gained notoriety, for land grabbing, as the 'Mannargudi Mafia'. A disenchanted electorate delivered a stinging verdict including a humiliating defeat of her own candidacy at Bargur. An unknown candidate from DMK was the giant killer.

Flush with victory and euphoria the DMK foisted several cases on her in addition to the ones that Swamy had launched. When Jayalalitha was arrested in a case her party men went on a rampage. In Dharmapuri a bus carrying school girls was way laid and torched resulting in the death of 4 students.

Jayalalitha bounced back in the 1998 parliamentary elections when she aligned with the BJP. India's prime minsters who often owe their power to the cow belt of North India were prone to ignore South India. Jayalalitha changed that in 1999 when she withdrew her party's support to Vajpayee. Standing in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan grounds she declared, in Hindi, that she was no longer supporting the government. No valid reason was given. Jayalalitha had arrived on the national scene, albeit, in an uncomplimentary manner. Vajpayee lost the trust vote by one vote, thanks to Mayavati who switched her votes at the last minute.

In a case of rank political opportunism, as is his tradition, Karunanidhi immediately aligned with BJP, a party he had ridiculed for stoking religious tensions and being inimical to minority communities, his vote bank.

Karunanidhi who sought to pass on the mantle to his son M.K. Stalin presided over a decent administration that time. However, in the run up to the 2001 elections he failed to stitch together a decent alliance and Jayalalitha romped to power. She sought to return the favor of foisting cases by filing a case against Karunanidhi for supposedly taking bribes in constructing the many 'flyovers' that marked his attempt to stem the unmanageable traffic of Chennai. The arrest episode and the drama enacted by Karunanidhi, not apparent in the first few days but only later as more evidence appeared, was a bad start to her second term.

Battling legal cases Jayalalitha unleashed a despicable tactic of silencing her critics or terrorizing those she considered inimical, including a member of the judiciary and her own erstwhile adopted son, by foisting 'ganja' cases wherein contraband was planted by the police and later claimed to be found on the accused.

Jayalalitha shocked the Hindu community and her fellow Brahmins when the much revered pontiff of Kanchi mutt Jayendra Saraswati was arrested, on Diwali day no less, on murder charges. A critic of Kanchi mutt was murdered right in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. Jayalalitha's government alleged that the murder was carried out on the orders of the pontiff who was irked by the critic. Her ardent supporter Cho Ramasamy reasoned that Jayalalitha would not have dared to do such an almost sacrilegious thing without adequate proof. But when the junior pontiff too was arrested on the day the senior was released on bail it became plain that there was more to this than just the desire to get justice for a slain man.

A welcome relief was the hunting and killing of forest brigand Veerappan, the largest manhunt in history, by a team headed by IPS officer Vijayakumar. The operation was everything that a previous operation headed by Devaram in her first tenure was not. That she is tough on law and order unlike her opponent Karunanidhi, who had buckled to a ransom event by Veerappan earlier, was established again.

The highlight of Jayalalitha's second term was the constitutional crisis she precipitated. As she was yet to clear herself of the TANSI land deal conviction she could not contest in the 2001 elections. She nevertheless filed petitions for candidacy in 4 constituencies and was reject in all 4 because the limit for filing was 2 constituencies. She blamed the DMK government and garnered some sympathy, unfairly, on that count. An irritated Karunanidhi retorted unedifyingly "நானா கொழுப்பெடுத்துப்போய் இரண்டு இடத்தில் மனு சமர்ப்பிக்கச்சொன்னேன்". Unexpectedly Jayalalitha's ADMK swept to power. Using the loop holes of the constitution she ascended the chief ministership since anybody can be elected by the largest seat holding party to be their leader provided they contest an MLA election within 6 months to become an MLA. Jayalalitha's issue was that she had been prohibited from contesting in the first place not that she did not contest. A case was duly filed in the Supreme Court which declared her move unconstitutional and unseated her as chief minister. A placeholder, O.Panneerselvam, was selected to keep the seat warm while she tried to clear herself of the TANSI land deal conviction.

Jayalalitha took the TANSI land deal conviction to the Supreme Court. In a verdict that stunned the nation and the judiciary the Supreme Court judge while accepting that she acted illegally released her saying that she can answer to her conscience. The judgment remains the butt of many jokes even today. Promptly Jayalalitha took the reins back.

Despite all the shenanigans that she did her opposition DMK was still struggling to gain back the voters trust. The 2006 election saw the advent of shameless promotion of supposedly welfare schemes like free color TVs for all by the DMK. It'd be fair to say that without that kind of a salacious promise the DMK may very well have lost the 2006 election. Even though the ADMK lost the DMK won just barely and lost half the seats in its bastion Chennai.

Karunanidhi's tenure in 2006-2011 was marked by rampant corruption, of an unprecedented scale, land grabbing, also of unprecedented scale, sycophancy that made Jayalalitha look modest, tyranny, especially of the lucrative and much attention gathering filmdom and above all a crippling electricity shortage that plagued the state with multi-hour power cuts. The DMK was trounced in the 2011 elections paving the way for a third term for Jayalalitha.

Jayalalitha started off her third term, as usual, with a string of rash decisions that mostly were designed to undo, irrespective of merits, everything her predecessor did. That the two parties have been alternating shows the lack of choice for Tamil Nadu voter.

Maturing as a savvy politician Jayalalitha, in her third term, outsmarted Karunanidhi on every issue that he had once used, with great effect, as a political wedge to differentiate himself to gullible voters. Whether it is supporting the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi's murder or getting water from Karnataka or the Mullaperiyar dam issue Jayalalitha played her cards well.

 In the recently concluded 2013 parliamentary elections ditching all other alliance partners she undertook a whirlwind tour of the state as the sole indefatigable campaigner of her party. Her helicopter hopping, ministers waiting with bowed heads at the helipad and her speeches were fodder for internet humor. But she had the last laugh. Jayalalitha romped home with 37 MPs. A feat that not even the legendary charisma of MGR could achieve. DMK was stunningly routed. Even as Modi mania swept all of India Jayalalitha denied him the satisfaction of a complete victory. Jayalalitha the politician had arrived with a bang.

 Every once in 5 years the voter simply throws out, often by a huge margin, the incumbent and gifts power to the then opposition party with sickening regularity for the past 23 years since 1991. The DMK, trounced in 2011 and the parliamentary elections of 2013, is still reeling from factionalism and a string of defeats. It was widely expected that Jayalalitha's ADMK could be re-elected in 2016 thus beginning the end of DMK. Now, all bets are off.

Jayalalitha lacked the natural political instincts of MGR and the savviness of Karunanidhi. A politician by accident and compulsion she was just maturing into a better leader when this conviction derailed her. Her titular and whimsical manner of government is legendary. Yet, many who meet her in person have often felt that she is an intelligent and pragmatic person one could do business with. Just as the person thinks they had been misinformed Jayalalitha will prove that they were gullible. Never having had a normal relationship with males she came to see her male opponents as nothing short of mortal enemies. She rarely, if at all it happened, showed grace toward anybody. Without people she could call friends or family all she had around her opportunists and opponents.

It is also true that Jayalalitha never got her due even when she deserved it simply because she happened to be a woman and a former actress catapulted to a position of power in a state that fawns over actors. Karunanidhi, an astute and savvy political operator, has always been held in awe, thanks to flashy rhetoric, by the literate as an ideologue, though in reality he has neither the intelligence to craft an idea nor the sincerity to adhere to an idea.

Let us also not forget that everything that Jayalalitha can be blamed for was actually seeded by Karunanidhi. Justice Sarkaria who headed his eponymous commission,  formed to probe the scandalous Veeranam scheme of Karunanidhi, wrote that Karunanidhi had perpetrated  bribery with 'scientific' methods. The finger of suspicion points to Azhagiri on the Tha. Krishnan murder. That case was ignominiously closed during Karunanidhi's tenure when witnesses became hostile. A case relating to burning a newspaper office resulting in the death of two employees, instigated by Azhagiri, was also let to die. In a corruption case relating to Stalin one of the witnesses, a friend, conveniently committed suicide along with his entire family including a toddler. DMK general secretary and Karunanidhi's perpetual sidekick Anbazhagan today croaks that his suit to transfer Jayalalitha's case out of Tamil Nadu was not out of political vendetta and that he was just following his party's resolution in that regard.

Every politician of Tamil Nadu is an opportunist scumbag. PMK founder and sudden millionaire Ramadoss once declared that if he ever aligned with Jayalalitha it will be as disgusting as having slept with his own mother. And then he aligned with Jayalalitha. Out of a sense of decency I will not ask any further questions of Ramadoss. When the BJP government moved the POTA bill with sweeping provisions to arrest people suspected of even voicing support for a banned organization Vaiko, who supports LTTE, a banned organization, voted for it. Promptly Jayalalitha used the bill to arrest him. Later for the sake of a few seats Vaiko aligned, fruitlessly, with Jayalalitha for the 2006 elections. G.K. Moopanar who broke away from Congress to form TMC solely because Congress high command in Delhi decided to align with Jayalalitha in 1996, much against the wishes of many congressmen, later went back to align with her. Thirumavalavan aligned with Jayalalitha and ridiculed Karunanidhi before switching parties in the next election. Subramanian Swamy, the cause of all her misery today, after filing all lawsuits went and aligned with Jayalalitha only to get elected to the parliament with her support. R.M.Veerappan and Kalimuthu, who had heaped scorn on Jayalalitha, later meekly sought her blessing. S.D. Somasundaram, a senior menmber of MGR's cabinet, who had quit the cabinet protesting the undue attention given to Jayalalitha, later gained notoriety for hanging onto her van's side and dangling. Several of Jayalalitha's former ministers who faced lawsuits for corruption under the DMK regime are now in the DMK camp. So much for the new found clamor for probity in public life.

I am all for prosecuting and punishing corruption in public life. If Jayalalitha had been convicted in 1997 I may have had lesser sympathy for her. Its not that she redeemed herself completely its just that I see others who have committed murders, instigated murders, even a rumored rape of a TV anchor, been corrupt on a grander scale have all escaped punishment and are acting with smug righteousness when all they should be doing is sticking their head several feet into the sand and dreading their own day of retribution.

Karunanidhi is trying not to be seen as gloating at his beet-noire's moment of downfall only because he is well aware that his daughter, from his second wife, is facing jail herself. It may very well come to pass that his first wife too may end up in jail. The Neera Radia tapes established how ministries were bartered and sold for a song to placate giant egos of his two wives who wanted their respective children to be cabinet ministers.

This month saw the conviction and sentencing of Virginia's popular ex-Governor and his wife for bribery, involving an amount of approximately Rs 1 crore. The governor was once thought to be a possible presidential candidate. Now he is facing many years in jail. Illinois governor was hauled out of his bed and handcuffed in a case where he was about to commit a crime. A sitting congressman, scion of a civil rights leader, and his wife are languishing in jail for misusing campaign funds. In each of those cases though the punishments are fully warranted I felt sorry that they had to face jail. Failures and downfalls, however well deserved, always bring about a sense of sadness because of what the punished have to face.

Jayalalitha fully deserves this punishment and even more. Think of K.M. Vijayan and Chandralekha, both are impaired for their remaining lives. The inability to say "she deserved it, lets move on" stems from memories of the arc of her life. If only her mom had not dragged into movies, if only Shoban Babu had not left, if only MGR had not dragged her to politics, if only she had realized what damage Sasikala was wrecking, if only she had had a wee bit of normal life and the ifs accumulate. A life filled with tragedy, disappointments, treachery, betrayals and sexism has now neared a cataclysmic climax. She may very well outsmart and bounce back and that would be a tragedy too for then justice would have died.

From a rank holding teenager in a premium convent, brought up in the lap of luxury, today Jayalalitha lives behind bars eating a ball of ragi rice. What a fall. In the movie 'Nixon' Henry Kissinger would muse to a colleague, when Nixon resigns, "can you imagine what he could have been if only he had been loved". The same is true of Jayalalitha Jayaram.

The climax scene of Jayalalitha's first movie 'Vennira Aadai' concludes with her donning the garb of a widow, a white saree. She would say that as a child she hated white color but is now destined to wear only that color because she was married and now widowed though her marriage last just two hours. Today, at the Central jail in Bangalore where she is lodged she dons a white saree.

                      Watch the clip from Vennira Aadai from the 2nd hour 53rd minute mark.

After all that has happened and after all that we know of her life Jayalalitha Jayaram will remain a puzzle. We do not yet know what makes her tick, we may never know who the real Jayalalitha is. She is, with apologies to Churchill, a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

96 comments:

Ravi said...

Fantastic, as always. Well-researched and well-written.

Yayathi said...

Jayalalithaa danced at World Tamil Conference at Madurai in 1981? Could you provide your reference on this? She was appointed as Propaganda Secretary in 1983. she led a private life until then. Vyjayanthimala in her book "Bonding...Memoir" claims she (herself) danced at the Madurai World Tamil Conference but quotes 1979. The dancer who was popular at that conference was the sister of Usha Rajendar - I don't remember her name, but MGR made her "Arasavai Narthagi".

Anonymous said...

Rise and fall of ....

Victor Suresh said...

Another good post. Reflects the ambiguous feelings of everyone who has followed Jayalalitha the past many years.

One error in the otherwise well researched article. Dharmapuri bus incident was not in response to her arrest, but to her conviction in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case. She has been convicted by the lower courts thrice so far: Pleasant Stay, TANSI land and the Disproportionate Assets case.

An important turning point in her politics was AIADMK's massive loss in 2004 parliamentary elections due to her imposition of what were perceived as anti-people ordinances (anti-conversion law, prohibition of animal slaughter, etc).

Another point that deserves mention is that her present popularity in Tamil Nadu is owed to the various Amma schemes that offer subsidized food, bottled water, etc., and have the potential to bankrupt the state's finances.

Prabhu said...

Very objectively written. Excellent.

Prasanna said...

Brilliant summary.. except for this line -
//Let us also not forget that everything that Jayalalitha can be blamed for was actually seeded by Karunanidhi//

its not fair :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know who you are... Simply love your language skills... As my ex told me once, "you've got a way with words"

Jai hind!

Anonymous said...

JJ is in 1st class VIP room wearing regular dress not white Saree and eating food from home not Kali according to today morning news itwmnon Hindu newspaper

Anonymous said...

A wonderful balanced well-researched write up! very informative!

Anonymous said...

beautifully conceived and well written article about JJ. On one side, your heart goes out for her for being forced into a life that had many ups and downs but on the other side, you feel it was unnecessary for her to indulge in amassing wealth when she has no kith or kin to inherit! Its saddening to see a politician of her stature ride a car with hundreds of police all along the route only to be jailed alone in the evening in a far off place!! Destiny has its own way! God be with her....

Anonymous said...

Your language and choice of words unfolding her entire history is impeccable. Kudos

SASIKALA said...

Pomp and glory are not permanent. Even if Jaya rebounds, her conviction under corruption will be written in black letters in the history of T.N. Rome and Greece had valiant emperors but have gone to dust honourably. Here is a corrupt empress who owes massive bungalows and mammoth collection of jewellery from public money and doles out good schemes for the poor just before being thrown out. She was rich before entering politics but may exit penniless if her all her wealth are confiscated as per law. The people have poor memory and have forgotten her past arrogance of making all men fall on her feet and bending the law whenever she wanted it.

Anonymous said...

Wow.... Simply superb... Well researched nicely written article. Kudos to the writer.. It's amazing to read a informative and balanced article...

rajagopalan [a] gopu said...

Barring two lapses this is a well compiled article in a chaste English and does warrants a load of appreciation

saibala said...

Excellent writeup...

ILAVARASI said...

The nucleus of the article is on the biographical details about Jayalalitha's past life. But the focus should be rivetted to where she is residing today. A jail! She is convicted because she could not account for as to how she got the money to buy 63 crores worth of assets at ridiculously rock bottom prices in five years time. Today these assets are worth thousands of crores! It is absolute abuse of power and authority, and her friend Sasikala misused Jaya's position. You click for any website under the title "houses owned by Sasikala", and you will be amazed to see the splendour of the assets and the brutal methods employed to acquire them. Whose money is it all?
A person is put behind the bars for years together for stealing a few hundred rupees, but a C.M. can plunder the state and wants to go out on bail within in two days. The law was an ass in previous years but it has become a lion today and has pounced on the guilty by the neck. Today Indian judiciary has proved that all are equal before the law.
As a person, as a politician and as an administrator she has been haughty and high handed. She unabashedly displayed her arrogance before her partymen, her repugnance towards her subordinates, her ruthless vengeance towards her rivals, her intolerance to dissenting opinions, her indifference to meet officials, ministers, MLAs and MPs, and her over confidence in assuming that she can bend the law and purchase the judiciary. But Justice Cunha has finally shown the tigress its cage.

Anonymous said...

No matter what the author wants to portray about JJ, the fact still remains she's a headstrong, narcissist and success in her political career has gone over her head. She and her party is funded by Xians and Islamic institutions to malign Hindus and establish herself as an epitome of justice and equality for downtrodden. End of the day, she doesn't deserve any sympathy and she's must pay for her deed. Good to see justice prevailed inspite of all calamities. There's a saying 'Dharma can delay justice but not deny justice'. Hail the judgement and relentless campaign by Subramanian Swamy.

Anonymous said...

Amazing Summary! Cheers to your Research and the language flow!

M said...

Makes interesting reading, albeit replete with factual errors

Venkatesh said...

I was a little surprised when I saw a Facebook fan page of playback singer Srinivas sharing this particular post. I've been a long time stalker of your blog though. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Nice article. Although found the same in this link - http://read.plash.in/2014/09/29/bed-time-read-jayalalitha-jayaram-life-tragedies-hubris-victories-downfall/. Do you write for Plash too?

ranjith said...

Awesome.. Well written with so much unknown infos of JJ..

Anonymous said...

JJ deserves not just this but much more for all her wicked and criminal acts over the decades. All assets of hers and her associates should be attached to the state and she should be banned for life from contesting or holding any public office.
Would be good if all politicians learn lesson to do their job with some honestly at least!

Vinayak said...

Hats off to your write up.

Rajavishakan said...

Nice article.
But please note -
Dharmapuri incident - They were not school girls. They were students of Agriculture University , Coimbatore. 3 girls were killed. , not 4

Murthy S. said...

Very Good article.

http://tamilnadubudgets.blogspot.com/2014/09/tamil-nadu-people-surrendered-their.html

Anonymous said...

Written well with balance! Like the way you have brought about the flip side that could be of hers.

Every politician with power or without it have almost swindled this state/ country. Though JJ has had her time/ ways, believe that she is an intelligent, capable politician/ leader who has taken the state on a growth mode; which i feel that any party or politician in the state is capable of and even doubt if her own party can carry it on their shoulders.

As you nailed it, definitely visible are the opportunists and opponents!

mugu kanna said...

A politician by accident and compulsion she was just maturing into a better leader when this conviction derailed her..

These 3 lines are well enuf to describe her 30 yrs political life :)
A well writtn arctle :)

accet5559 said...

Well . 65 crores corruption has been duly dealt with. A good sign. 1,76,000 crores wait in line followed by 1,80, 000 plus crores case
Let us hope the hand of justice continues to function---R Vaidyanathan

Anonymous said...

Well analysed blog, this should reach out to people from other states and countries.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. Bottom line- tamil nadu doesn't get any better. It is always "better of evil". Blame the citizens. OP swears to rule under amma's umbrella. Why not get some advise from the Nirbhaya rapists as well. This is the best the state can get.

Anonymous said...

@Yayathi - I guess you are right - JJ did not dance at WTC @ Madurai - hers was more of an over powering presence - the dancer was Swarnamukhi.

Coming to this conviction - one only hopes the judiciary will act with the same fervor in numerous other pending cases. If 4 years + 100 crores for 66 crores - then imagine what it should be for 176000 crores ++

If the judiciary fails to do the needful, then this conviction would add to the long list of victimization episodes JJ has faced in life - something that makes her so bitter and obsessed that she cannot look beyond it - ever in her life.

Plus post MGR - she has never had a kind of controlling influence in life. Or even a moderating influence if we can call it that.
And with the wrong set of people exploiting the situation, it has always been downhill for her - in the real sense of the term.

Plus as general public who increasingly consider our civic duty to begin and end with just posting online comments so conveniently without even moving so much of anything other than our fingers, we have let people like JJ let them be.

Wishful thinking is "what would have been" if JJ had been a person with her head screwed on the 'right way' - with her supposed language, communication and administrative skills??!!

Anonymous said...

Well Written except few...Few of your statements shows by someway you are partial to Jayalalitha while writing this.

Ex.: "The 2006 election saw the advent of shameless promotion of supposedly welfare schemes like free color TVs for all by the DMK".

The 2011 election also saw the same shameless promotion of schemes like free bicycle, laptop, mixer, grinder by ADMK. But why you dind't mention that?

Also you mentioned ".....above all a crippling electricity shortage that plagued the state with multi-hour power cuts" in DMK period. Please note that became very severe to the scale of atleast 8 hrs powercut in households in current ADMK period.

"....ministers waiting with bowed heads at the helipad and her speeches were fodder for internet humor". It was not just mere internet humor. It was very much real.

Please provide proper evidence for your statement "...That she is tough on law and order unlike her opponent Karunanidhi, who had buckled to a ransom event by Veerappan earlier, was established again"

I am a common man not a supporter of any party while writing any comments here.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. You certainly forgot the way she curtailed the government employees strike. I was baffled to hear that she has submitted petition to move sasikala to her cell in VIP area. We can never understand the depths of that friendship that caused her dooms-fall. But a article well written and your closing note matches with my thoughts!

cynthia vincent said...

Very well Written. You have researched it so well..

Anonymous said...

Anybody who has read her incomplete (force stopped!) autobiography in Kumudam before her entry into politics or her fictional narrative of cine field experience in Kalki, can understand your sympathy. She is a psychological wreck made out of adverse circumstances, created by her mother and her mentor. Ironically, she cannot explicitly show her true feelings for them to the world outside.

Anonymous said...

"I am all for prosecuting and punishing corruption in public life. If Jayalalitha had been convicted in 1997 I may have had lesser sympathy for her. Its not that she redeemed herself completely its just that I see others who have committed murders, instigated murders, even a rumoured rape of a TV anchor, been corrupt on a grander scale have all escaped punishment and are acting with smug righteousness when all they should be doing is sticking their head several feet into the sand and dreading their own day of retribution."
I fully agree with what I have quoted above. If my guess is right, the writer must be a female with highly liberated ideas.

Anonymous said...

JJ in my opinion is a Narcissist of first order. That would explain all the enigma. Read more here - http://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder-symptoms/

Anonymous said...

Good article . All to be done is --- only by the people---- to think before they ink about all the deeds by all the politicians . --- And for sure if people do so these two Dravidian parties are for to be wiped off and again new governance will emerge

Victor Suresh said...

Part 2 of தமிழக அரசியல் வரலாறு by R. Muthukumar (கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம்) refers to Jayalalitha being invited by MGR to organize a dancing event for the 1981 World Tamil Conference in Madurai. She probably did not dance personally, but perhaps organized it.

Anonymous said...

Jayalalitha indeed performed during the world tamil conference in 1981. She choreographed and acted in a dance drama entitled Çauvery Thantha Kalaiselvi

nalini panjalingam said...

Well written..

Anonymous said...

Very well researched and written.

Anonymous said...

Well compiled. Wild goose cooling in Jail.

latha said...

you are right it was nitnot jaya who danced it was swarnamukhi.

Anonymous said...

Very objective: nicely written.The political tragedies of Tamilnadu and the bleak options available in near future ,have been well documented.

Anonymous said...

Two things i wanted to share on reading your excellent article:
One, the adage that justice has to be delivered even if it is delayed is a flawed one. Justice delayed equally hurts the both the parties for all the misery it causes when it is delivered after so many years. What is delivered is just mercilessness and not justice!

Two, these verses of Newman in Lead, Kindly Light may offer succour in this hour of crisis...

"Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene--one step enough for me..."

shankar said...

Folks!!! Does it really matter if she danced on the event or not? If a 66 crore scam is being brought to justice. . I wonder why 8-digit crore scams are still left at bay...

Anonymous said...

Don't think that will happen for generations. The citizen's attitude is-what if she stole 66 crores of our money, usurped our properties and stamped us into hell. At least she gave us Amma canteens, Amma water, Amma pharmacies, Amma cements etc. So a tad of Amma dacoity won't hurt.
And let us not kid ourselves. She is and will be the CM of TN as long as AIADMK is in power. Those bars are hardly any obstacles.

Sivakumar said...

Well written article, about the point on her participation in the tamil world conference in 1981, this article in The Frontline (a publication by the renowned newspaper from Chennai) validates that she conceived and acted in the dance drama http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2115/stories/20040730003803600.htm

Ashwin Mani said...

Worthwhile reading it. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

The subsidized schemes are a boon. If implemented properly (of which I am sure Jayalalitha can pull off), they can at the very least break even. As opposed to the stupid free-bies handed out to lazy morons who were neither farmers or in the lower strata of society. I know people who took these freebies even though they could afford one themselves. Karunanidhi is a leech and his freebie scheme is a lecherous idea.

Ganesh said...

A brave woman - sad that her career should plummet to this state :(

Anonymous said...

Excellent Cinematic narration on Jayalalitha's life. Even a movie can be made.

Anonymous said...

Well Said! this blog is biased.. even i agree she is a capable administrator but did she used her skills effectively is the question..

Anonymous said...

You want a contrarian view - take this... When i saw the image of the confiscated jaya jewels in the cnn-ibn twitter feed on 27th sep, i was shocked to find a prominent necklace featuring the freemason symbol - inverted compass

A huge cache of gold and silver ornaments found at Jayalalitha's residence in 1997 #Jayaverdict pic.twitter.com/KOfdDQHmgH— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) September 27, 2014

Which leads me to believe that somebody might have played a fishy role in planting a case not just in the courts but also in the confiscated possessions.

Is there a diabolical conspiracy to keep her quiet or away or out of the limelight by relegating her to the background. Why would the well connected bishop ezra sargunam take extreme interest by meeting the verdict pronouncing judge twice in private twice in the last 3 months? the verdict and the quantum of the punishment should not be announced at the same time as per the supreme court - which was not the process followed by the trial court judge - the extreme interest shown by subramananian swamy (with us, israel and srilankan links) is also perplexing particularly when he was the host of the tea party in delhi merely 4 yrs after lodging this case. Who benefits and achieves more by keeping madam in the jail at this juncture ? Something tells me it is not just the dmk. Southern india has had a relatively peaceful environment amongst its states until now. Who benefits by vitiating this environment or by imposing president's rule in Tamilnadu. The people are constantly watching and the tamil public opinion is being formed as the events unfold.

Anonymous said...

Politcians use every opportunity to take political mileage

Will it be so

Eg... BSY, Lalu, Vaiko (POTA Arrest)


It makes cautious voter (not sympathy or Dementia Voters) to recall this incident a marketing strategy

Every Product needs marketing Platform and Communication Channel

Are Politicians basically "BRANDS" requiring periodic "Aggressive Campaign" and "Brand Recall" strategies????

V.S. Krishnan said...

Almost all the politicians indulge in some corrupt practices and I think Jayalalitha is less corrupt than others.

T.H.Iyer said...

In my opinion, Jayalalitha is a vey intelligent, hard working and amazing person.

She has become a victim of her own environment, choice of friends and her harshness in expression and her ego and arrogance which are bye products of her high level of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter, the article is still good.

VENKAT said...

Excellent research and comprehensively written known facts but with clarity through research. One concern how we are all going to change these including the public speaking seen through YOU TUBE.

Anonymous said...

Well written article. It is sad to see that there are no leaders to look up in Tamil Nadu. I hope Modi wave spreads to Tamil Nadu. I don't want to see DMDK or DMK come to power and loot all the money and let rowdyism spread.

Suresh Panje said...

All said and done, it is stupid on the part of the AIADMK workers and supporters staging needless protests over her conviction. After all, she is no angel.

Anonymous said...

This article recollected memorable moments the Tamil Nadu faced and how a good politician came to power after a long battle. Time will ripe for good news shortly.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Actual institutionalization of corruption started from the time this film story writer/dialogue writer became chief minister, when he upstaged the perennial also ran Nedunchezhian to become CM after Annadurai died. The famous Muster Roll case should not be forgotten. In spite of the so called Amma schemes, it is common knowledge that corruption during this rule of Jayalalitha was no less. Just nothing moves without money.

Anonymous said...

Subramaniam swamy also is a fraud

OlloborLeumas said...

Time is ripe for a change to bring back the glory of Tamilnadu!

Damu said...

Well written, and honest. Easily the best I've read about her.
If the Tamil words (quotes) are translated into English for benefit of non-Tamils, it would be good.

PKN said...

It is shame, Shame, SHAME. Every citizen of this state should be ashamed. All of us shamelessly just beating the bush. Just a Jayalalitha or a Karunanidhi single handedly cannot amass or acquire the gigantic proportion of the properties which they or their coterie are holding today or involve in punishing/maiming/eradicating the innocent lives. It’s the collective criminal participation by the local elected members and the government officials especially the so called IAS, IPS Chelas who lick the left-overs. In the pyramid of corruption these are at the pinnacle like a ring master in a circus imagine other acrobats,jokers and the animals in particular down below to the base level ! Until unless a police is police, a judge is a judge and likewise every citizen of this damn state learn to be honest and righteous, there is no respite from this dirty ‘fence eating the crop’ business!
Hope, conviction of jayalalitha is the fore word to the volumes of corruption cases/people piled under the slumber of various state departments/authorities to be probed.

Anonymous said...

latest Scam which could be unimaginable magnitude is TNEB's ELECTRICITY METER Scam

New Energy meter(Magnectic Induction based Digital type) is complained by tamilnadu consumers as "Very big scam" running to Rs.30,000+ Cr fraud

Reason: Previous Energy meters for 2BHK house was recording around 400-500 energy units(2 months)

Since J Came to power in June 2011, her first agenda was thrusted on TNEB for speedy replacement to "digital energy meters"

Same 2BHK Consumer is getting a energy consumption of 1000-1200 units after this digital meters.Media though fully aware, has suppressed this huge cry of entire consumers

Many such large-scale scams are suppressed by Local media like HINDU, TIMES OFINDIA, INDIAN EXPRESS AS WELL AS VISUAL MEDIA in TN

kalyaan said...

Truly an excellent article of the rise & fall of a Woman's journey saddled with agony,ecstasy Glory, the Good, bad & ugly incidents wittingly or unwittingly she got involved in.

Jayalalitha Jayaram: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma. A Life of Tragedies, Hubris, Victories and Downfall."
APT TITLE for the Rise & fall of an ICON...

Anonymous said...

She may be fraudulent but......Truth is....Tn needs jj badly...cos cant imagine dmdk..or dmk leaders as cm ......shes far better dan other party candidates

Kannan said...

Jayalalitha danced in around 1967-68 in World Tamil Conference at Trichy held during C.N.Annadurai's period. The title of the dance drama was "Kaviri thantha Kalaichelvi". It was this conference's account that was demanded by MGR and not supposedly provided by Karunanithi that led to the expulsion of MGR from DMK.

Kannan said...

The problems of 1st regime of Jayalalitha and the cause of today's judgement is fundamentally due to Sasikala group. JJ not so politicallymatured at that time was carried away by Mannargudi group. Tansi case iteself was just an escape. But the latest tenure was far better tghan many other governements of Tamilnadu. But to eradicate corrupt politicians and instigate fear of punishment such judgements have to be welcome. Because of politicians, almost all offices are corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Well-written article. But as a VVIP prisoner she is spared the ragi rice and white sari!

Anonymous said...

Pretty Obvious that the author is pro-jayalalitha and is trying hard to mask it and pretend to be neutral. If this is an article about Jaya ..why talk about DMK in this article. The whole article is designed to create sympathy for Jaya. I am not an supporter of Jaya or Karunanidhi.. Both are equally corrupt. One is very good at it not to get caught (karuna), the other is arrogant and think that nobody can touch her. One tries to swindle money by land grabbing and populist scheme (Jaya), the other (karuna) tries to get large infrastructure projects sanctioned and get a percentage. Bottom line-- both are corrupt but this author is Pro-Jaya .. there is no doubt about it

Anonymous said...

My compliments to the author on a well-compiled and compact life sketch of Ms. Jayalalitha.

Yet, in my view, this is an overly sympathetic analysis. I would like to provide an alternative analysis. I obviously can’t match the author’s facile phraseology and hence I crave his and his followers’ patient tolerance of my plodding and pedestrian prose.

While circumstance do shape our life, our conscious choices exert an even greater influence on the course and impact of our lives. Legions of people have overcome the crippling tyranny of their circumstances incomparably more severe than Ms. Jayalalitha’s and enriched and ameliorated the countless lives they came in contact with. Jayalalitha’s life, on the other hand, is a sad tale of abused opportunities. Here is one who, through unbridled arrogance, has debased life’s gifts into curses.

Simple arithmetic will reveal that she was very much an adult while acting in her first movie. If she was indeed forced into acting much against her wishes, then why did she not quit acting once her economic position had improved or at least after the demise of her mother.

She was a misfit and relatively friendless in the film world essentially because of her arrogance and her inability to see merit in others. Intelligence and achievement can manifest in myriad forms. Ability to converse in convent English is just one of them. Didn’t MGR’s mastery over most facets of film making and marketing or the overwhelming adulation he received from the people or Sivaji’s unrivalled acting prowess count for something and deserve respect.

One’s nobility is to be judged by the way one treats one’s subordinates and social or hierarchical inferiors. If she was so much hurt by having to bow to heroes how could she, after attaining political prominence, make everyone prostrate and grovel before her. Was it vengeance or retribution for what she herself had to endure? If so, what does it reveal – nobility of character or snarling vengeance?

Most others achieved filmy or political stardom after years of struggle and enduring indignities galore. But these were thrust upon Jayalalitha.

Given her obvious intelligence and absence of dependants, she could have dedicated her political life to genuine betterment of the teeming masses who bestowed her with love and trust. Yet she abused her fiduciary position to garner wealth for herself, live a life of unbecoming ostentation and settling political scores by means fair or foul.

If the judgment had been delivered in 1997 (as it ought to have and as it would have in most progressive countries) not a tear would have been shed for her. The efflux of time by erasing or rearranging the peoples’ memory has paved the way for her deification and portrayal as a victim.

There is a Tamil saying that in a land of unclothed men a man in a loin cloth would stand out. Yet loin cloth, unless it exemplifies true renunciation, is nothing to be proud of. The scathing criticism contained in TANSI judgment or her tactics in prolongation of the DA case redound to her discomfiting discredit.

Her populist schemes empty the coffers without conferring any life sustaining skills on the masses. Today the state and most of its undertaking are perilously close to bankruptcy or debt trap.

In sum her life is a tale of golden opportunities so callously cast away.

- Ignoble Ignoramus -

Anonymous said...

Superb article good job well attributed

Srivathsan said...

While the author has penned a fine elegy, 'Anonymous - Oct 13 at 8:36 AM' has brought out a dispassionate and sincere obituary! Both made interesting reading. 'one who, through unbridled arrogance, has debased life’s gifts into curses' is a fine depiction of Ms. Jayalalitha. Sigh.

Azzahra Nazwa said...

Great posts. did you mind if i re-publish this post at my blog? i'll wait your permission before i publish it, thanks.

Venkatraman Yagnaswami said...

Parliament election was held only in 2014, and not in 2013 as mentioned wrongly.

MURUGAN N said...

I am a 27years old male, but feeling as infant with respect to politics,after reading your blog,

More than that, your exceptional language skill made me to learn more vocabularies from this post.

I am proud to say being a follower of J.Jayalalitha...

As for as just a single reason, i am following her as just she is a single female, who can live in the jungle surrounded by multiple so called men.

I salute J jaya>>>> she is a history,
Every one knows, that she done a blender mistake and misused the power, but when compare that to others (Mr. Karunanidhi) She just did only 1% it seems.

Let see, what happens in the future,

Am waiting to see her back!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Though Jaya has done few good things in her tenure as a CM during her entire political life, Jaya is more of a corrupt, bigot, pro-communal, pro-Hindu and opportunist.

Unknown said...

Let us be clear Has there been a single honest senior pol in Tamilnadu? or a large number voters who take money for votes.Pro hindu is communal, and pro Muslim and pro Christian is not? excellent standards

Incidentally a very good blog

Unknown said...

An unusually fair and balanced and one may say even sympathetic article. I live in Bangalore and and the poor whom I know like my taxi drivers, dhobi, carpenter, electrician who often go to Tamilnadu for work, unstintingly praise Amma canteens. It has enabled a large number of poor to get reasonably good food at a low price allowing them to save more, It has also reduced the daily drudgery of poor working women in the evening after their regular wage work or trade which can be quite tiring. it appears that the poor women of Tamilnadu unlike elsewhere in India see reasons to be grateful to Jayalalitha in spite of her obvious drawbacks.

Sriram Sundar said...

Hi Sir, do I have permission to post this blog (or reproduce its content) on reddit?

Athenaeum said...

@Sriram Sundar: You can publish the link. Don't reproduce it or post sections of it.

Thirugnana Sambandam said...

Good language, facts across her life, elucidating the cream and cripples of her path. May her soul rest in peace.

nandini said...

She s an inspiration for all women. Iron lady, became a state's chief minister in midst of thirsty animals. Dignified lady. Hats off to her.

Neetha Menon said...

An old article.....a good read...

Venkatramanan Vasan said...

It was Giridhar Gamang / Saifuddin Soz but definitely not Mayavathi (one vote which toppled Vajpayee)!
But otherwise, I assume it as another masterpiece from you.
Will read & come back!

Regards,
Venkatramanan.

yuvanaa ramachandran said...

No one can replace AMMA. Hon'ble Selvi J.Jayalalitha was a brave , courageous, tender, and a dignified lady.She would continue to rule all our hearts ( only for those who truly respect her and her courage ). Long live the brave queen's victories !!!

Anonymous said...

That was second time when she jailed in Bengaluru... not first time... 1st time, she was put in to a very much miserable Barack where all rats, bandicoots &all kinds of insects were there... as per her description the jail room was open in her honor as it was closed for several year.... it was a dungeon....

Anonymous said...

She is highly corrupted,arrogant, cruel, pro- slavery what not

Niranjan said...

What is your profession? Your language is superb.

Anonymous said...

Author of this Article, please continue this article covering for events till date... JJ's death.