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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 15:42 GMT
Jayalalitha returns to power
Jayalalitha Jayaram
Jayalalitha: one of India's most controversial politicians
Indian politician and former movie star Jayalalitha has been sworn in as chief minister of India's southern Tamil Nadu state, five months after she quit the post in a bribery scandal.

The 54-year-old head of the state's ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party began her third term in office after winning a by-election in Andipatti last Sunday.

I feel an immense sense of gratitude towards the people of Tamil Nadu

Hundreds of supporters packed Madras University centenary hall for the lavish ceremony, while many others watched the proceedings on a giant television screen outside.

Speaking afterwards, Jayalalitha said she felt "an immense sense of gratitude towards the people of Tamil Nadu who have supported me and stood by me through thick and thin".

Jayalalitha was forced to step down last September because she was not member of the state legislature.

She had been disqualified from standing in assembly elections because of corruption convictions stemming from her previous term in office, from 1991 to 1996.

The AIADMK won a majority and Jayalalitha took office while her convictions were under appeal, but India's Supreme Court ruled that she had to resign.

Colourful career

Jayalalitha served two months of a one-year jail sentence for bribery handed down last February before her convictions were quashed by an appeal court in December.

Jayalalitha has a huge following in Madras
Jayalalitha is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians and attitudes towards her vary greatly.

She starred in more than 100 films before entering politics in the late 1980s and, despite a tarnished reputation, she commands a huge following.

Last year, the Indian Government accused Jayalalitha of violating the constitution after she ordered the arrest of her chief political opponent, together with many of his supporters and journalists.

See also:

25 Feb 02 | South Asia
India's BJP mulls poll blow
24 Feb 02 | South Asia
Jayalalitha makes a comeback
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
Key Indian state polls begin
24 Jan 02 | South Asia
Jayalalitha enters political fray
04 Dec 01 | South Asia
Court victory for Jayalalitha
01 Jul 01 | South Asia
Rival's revenge in Tamil Nadu
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