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In Chennai churn, Kamal Haasan set to launch party

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 13-09-2017 arun janardhanan

Kamal Haasan © Provided by Indian Express Kamal Haasan A STATE where film actors have stolen the show in mainstream politics over the last five decades, from M G Ramachandran to J Jayalalithaa and Vijayakanth, may soon witness a new star entry — Kamal Haasan.

With the political situation in Tamil Nadu in a state of flux, sources close to Haasan told The Indian Express that the veteran actor is planning to launch his political outfit by the end of this month, with an eye on the local body elections expected to be held in November.

“Preparations to float a political party is in progress and the announcement is likely in a few days. Vijayadashami or Gandhi Jayanthi may be considered appropriate to make the announcement,” said a close aide of the actor.

“He is yet to share the final details with leaders of his fans’ groups but the upcoming local body elections have made it a necessity for him to step in,” he said.

Another source close to Haasan said the actor feels that it is necessary to enter politics at this juncture before any major alliances are forged by the Opposition DMK or the warring factions of the ruling AIADMK.

“This is the crucial time to enter. He thinks that there is a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu. He is overwhelmed by the response from the public on his recent statements taking on politicians in the state. He is busy meeting key faces of his fans’ groups besides sharing his ideas and draft papers for the new party with people whom he respects,” he said.

On September 1, after a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram, the 62-year-old actor had said that he was considering an entry in politics and would be “in the middle of things, not leaning to any side”.

According to sources, Haasan feels that the local body elections, with over 4,000 candidates, may be the best opportunity to engage with people at the grassroots.

“We have well-disciplined members of fans’ groups in all districts, in each and every taluk. A local body election would be the best platform to give them an opportunity to serve people,” said sources.

Another close aide working with Haasan indicated that the two events the actor is scheduled to attend - on September 15 in Chennai and on September 16 in Kozhikode - would give further clues to his plans. In Kozhikode, Haasan will be attending a national seminar against communal fascism to be inaugurated by Vijayan and attended by senior CPI(M) leaders from Kerala.

Asked about his proximity to Left leaders, sources said that Haasan had met many people over the last few months for feedback on his political plans. “On his mind is not a typical political party, like Vijayakanth’s, to contest in elections alone. He believes that people need to be politicised. He will play a key role in the upcoming local elections,” said sources.

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When contacted, Haasan’s spokesperson said he would “get back if there is a comment”.

Haasan’s political entry was predicted by many, especially after he made a series of politically loaded comments against the infighting within the AIADMK after Jayalalithaa’s death. But his move to launch a new party, instead of joining an alliance, is being viewed as a direct threat to the DMK at a time when its leader M K Stalin is seen to be taking a soft line on the ongoing crisis involving the AIADMK.

Said a senior DMK leader, “What he is doing now and his controversial statements are all to raise the popularity of his TV show Big Boss, essentially to wipe out a huge financial debt, not for any political entry. If he has political ambitions, the DMK would be happy to have him for his secular values and statements against communal forces.”

Ramu Manivannan, political analyst and professor at the University of Madras, said the launch of an outfit at this juncture may be an “unprepared move”. “Kamal Haasan is one of the influential faces in our civil society. He can be used by bigger parties to get more votes. But he cannot play a bigger role than the bigger parties here,” he said.

Incidentally, there has been a buzz over the years of the other heavyweight movie star from Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth, making a entry in politics. But the actor has not made any significant step in this direction so far.

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