India

Jayalalitha: New Tamil Nadu chief minister curbs alcohol sale

Jayaram Jayalalitha, leader of the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) state political party, gestures during a campaign rally in Chennai on April 9, 2016. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Jayalalitha has been sworn-in for the sixth time as Tamil Nadu chief minister

Jayaram Jayalalitha, who has been sworn in as the chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has begun her new term by announcing curbs on alcohol sales.

The authorities ordered 500 government-run liquor shops to shut down and also reduced the store timings.

Ms Jayalalitha had promised in her poll manifesto to gradually ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state.

She has been sworn in for the fifth time as the state's chief minister.

On Monday morning, thousands of people lined the streets with posters and flowers as she drove to Madras University, the venue of the oath-taking ceremony in the capital, Chennai (Madras).

Her AIADMK party won the assembly polls with a comfortable majority last week, defeating the rival DMK party, led by 93-year-old Muthuvel Karunanidhi.

Twenty-six ministers also took oath on Monday with Ms Jayalalitha.

Within hours of taking oath, the new chief minister approved several government orders to fulfil some of the promises she had made in her election manifesto:

  • All students in government-run schools to get free breakfast
  • All newly-married women to get eight grams of gold to make traditional jewellery - earlier, the limit was four grams
  • 500 government-run liquor shops to shut down and store timings reduced by two hours
  • Crop loans of farmers to be waived off
  • 100 units of free power for domestic electricity consumers

A former film actress, Ms Jayalalitha has been a leading figure in south Indian politics for three decades.

She enjoys enormous popularity in Tamil Nadu, where fans know her simply as "Amma" or mother.

During a press conference last week, she had hailed her party's win as a major achievement.

"After 1984, no ruling party in the state has been able to win an election and form the government for a successive term," she said.

Her party won 134 seats, while the DMK secured 98 to become the main opposition in the assembly.


Jayalalitha: Mercurial personality

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Former actress who appeared in more than 100 films
  • Chief minister of Tamil Nadu on five previous occasions - from 1991-96, briefly in 2011, 2002-06 and 2011-14, May 2015 to May 2016
  • Has alternated in power with her great rival, 93-year-old DMK party leader M Karunanidhi
  • Feted by various Indian prime ministers over the last 20 years trying to win her support
  • Critics accuse her of establishing a personality cult, but supporters praise her poverty relief efforts
  • Known for her extravagant lifestyle - police once discovered more than 10,000 saris and 750 pairs of shoes in a raid on her premises

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