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Jayalalithaa 'The Khaleesi' of India's political history

In a world where the concept of feminism and women empowerment has widely been misunderstood and misconceived by many, she stood as an epitome of excellence in showing the world what a woman was capable of and the heights a lady can scale upto. Late Dr. J. Jayalalithaa, stood as the standard bearer of what the Mount Everest of women empowerment looks like. It definitely does sound very odd to use the prefix ‘late’, but that's the sad state of reality and it just has to sink in. Personally, one might not be on the same page with all her decisions, but I must state the obvious fact - her vision and leadership was exemplary.

Confident, sassy, brash and a remarkable orator, she always knew what it took to be the best in whatever she did. Right from her days as a stage actor, gradually transitioning into films, Jayalalithaa, made it to the top of the mountain and could easily be classified as the female superstar of her time. The pristine evidences of that were the five Tamil Nadu State Awards and six Filmfare Awards she won. As spoken by her in an interview, she didn’t like being an actor, but that didn’t stop her from reaching the horizon.

But that was never her limit, as she was always destined for greatness. Persuaded by her mentor, Dr. M. G. Ramachandran, Jaya transitioned into the world of politics in 1982 and her ‘Pennin Perumai’ speech in the party's political conference not only defined her forte as a speaker, but also registered her watermark in Tamil Nadu’s political history. Just two years into her political career, she had a meteoric rise, as she became the party’s propaganda secretary and then Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha. Her successful campaign in AIADMK’s win during 1984 elections, was the beginning of her political innings. Things were pretty evident by then, as unofficially or officially she was set to take center stage as MGR’s political heir.

From facing major crisis following the death of MGR, Jayalalithaa conquered all to become the Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu in 1989, she created her own version of Khaleesi, probably a version that could make George. R. R. Martin to take inspiration from, if only he knew about Tamil Nadu’s wonder woman. Just as Daenerys faced her insults, Jayalalithaa too had her fair share, during the infamous TN Legislative Assembly session in March 1989, where she was reportedly attacked by the then ruling DMK members. This was the exclamation point, as the world witnessed a ruthless and gutsy woman who wasn’t intimidated and rather fired-up to take the throne, a feat she conquered in 1991, resurrecting the AIADMK to the top of TN’s political food chain. 

There began her rule over her own Westeros, which raised her stock up the Indian Political ladder as a daring woman and politician to be feared with. Five years down the lane this Targaryen was kindled at her own Bargur constituency as she was defeated in an election that became a debacle for the AIADMK party. Again, taking a quote from Game of Thrones, a fire is considered the most vacuous idea to slay the dragon-blood Targaryen, five years later, despite all odds and being barred from contesting in the 2001 elections, this Melukote-born Targaryen showed no remorse to claim back what was rightfully hers, a move that set her own course in becoming the Iron Lady of this country, making people refer to her as the most powerful woman for years to come, even this very day.

Be it the interview with Karan Thapar, where this fiery Stormborn put Thapar to his place, or the ever famous Rendezvous segment with Simi Garewal’s, Jayalalithaa made us respect her fiery and multi-faceted persona. A less known fact was her vivid interest in fine arts, literature and world politics and her intentions to support fine arts and sports in the state. An incident, I closely remember is her acknowledgement over Hillary’s efforts following her loss to Obama in the race to become the democratic representative in 2008, asserting the difficulty a woman faces in an arena dominated by men and stood by Ms.Clinton's efforts.

Arguably, I’ve never seen a woman with such class and galvanizing image that was worshipped by her followers. She ruled Tamil Nadu in five different occasions, especially in a political world dominated by men, making this country turn their heads towards her with awe. As she breathed her final breath, the entire nation turned their attention to pay homage, this will neither be the first nor the last time she’s going to turn the country towards her, as such is the illustrious legacy she leaves behind. As mentioned by her, having never enjoyed cinema or politics, wanting to be something more, yet achieved greatness in whatever she did, this great woman with an iron-willed footprint, the daughter of India returns back to Sandhya in peace.

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