Jayalalithaa started her first political address with ‘Pennin Perumai’ meaning the greatness of woman at a time when Tamil Nadu politics was completely dominated by men.


There is no doubt MG Ramachandran brought Jayalalithaa to politics. MGR was the star figure for DMK before he started his own party and named it AIADMK. He knew the value of star power and asked Jayalalithaa to join the party.


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Initially, using her as the star figure of the party was MGR’s intention, and he made Jayalalithaa join the party in 1982. But Jayalalithaa was not among those who would be satisfied by just a public appearance for the glamour quotient.


Soon, she gained popularity through her powerful speeches. People thronged the venue, whenever Jayalalithaa spoke.


This made MGR also change his perspective about Jaya, and despite opposition from his party members, MGR made her AIADMK’s propaganda secretary in 1983. In the same year, she also won the by-election at Tiruchendur Assembly Constituency.


When most leaders in Tamil Nadu were not confident of speaking in any other language, Jayalalithaa was fluent in English. By now, MGR had started believing in Jayalalithaa’s capabilities as a politician. Accordingly, Jayalalithaa was nominated and elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1984. She was a Rajya Sabha member till 1989.


Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa was active in her literary world too as she wrote stories and articles in various Tamil magazines. In a Tamil weekly magazine ‘Kumudam’ she wrote her life story in series.


Jealous of her rise in the party, some leaders started warning MGR against the popularity of Jayalalithaa. Realising that Jaya was getting more popular than him, MGR asked Jayalalithaa to stop writing on her life story.


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Unfazed by this, Jaya stopped writing for the magazine as asked by her mentor. But this did not deter her from performing her political duties. A group in AIADMK was not happy with Jayalalithaa’s political grip. But the others were supporting her as they considered her capable and also because she was MGR’s favourite.


When MGR had a stroke in 1984, it is said Jayalalithaa tried to take his position as the Chief Minister. But MGR made sure that that doesn’t become a reality. Though he kept Jaya away from his affairs for a while, she was there beside him throughout his illness.


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Probably MGR had started feeling insecure because of the importance Jayalalithaa got from some of the party members as well as people. But their alliance for decades made MGR ask Jayalalithaa to get involved in the party issues closely.


What happened after his death is history. Despite being the most eligible person to take the chair, Jayalalithaa had to fight to get what she wanted.


Even though there are theories that she used the sympathy factor that she was being mistreated by MGR’s wife Janaki and her family, without a personal charm and political strategy, she couldn’t have ruled Tamil Nadu and rose to be people’s Amma.


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