As Makkal Needhi Maiam turns 1, Kamal Haasan decides to go it alone

Kamal Haasan hoisting the MNM flag at the party headquarters in Chennai today.

Chennai: Exactly a year ago, Kamal Haasan turned a full-time politician – a new avatar which caught everyone by surprise.

The Dasavatharam actor, launching his political outfit Makkal Needhi Maiam in Madurai 21 February 2018, said he would devote the rest of his life to the people.

“I was in your heart all this while. Now I want to be in all your homes. You had looked at me as a star all along. Now I request you to look at me as a lamp. Light me in all your homes,” he had said.

One year has gone by and the actor is now gearing up to keep his words. The party, which was floated with a centrist view, is now ready to face the Lok Sabha elections alone and Kamal is set to announce the candidate for the general elections soon.

Sources in MNM say, “We have interviewed candidates and their names would be out soon.”

With the AIADMK and DMK forging strong alliances, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is whether Kamal, the greenhorn in politics, will stand the tough test of going it alone.

However, the mood in MNM is upbeat. “We are here for change and so are the people. They want the kazhagams’ domination in the State politics for over five decades to end. We are the alternative.”

Ever since Kamal floated his party, he maintained equidistance from the AIADMK and BJP. His Left ideological leanings and his meetings with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan let loose speculations that he may side with the Opposition parties.

His presence at Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony, interactions with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and finally a Delhi visit where he met AICC chief Rahul Gandhi led to political pundits speculating that he would be part of the Congress-DMK alliance.

However, Kamal in the past few weeks hit out at DMK president M K Stalin. He called the DMK a bag of dirt and said he was averse to allying with the party. He further said, “Are you not ashamed of copying from a small boy?” referring to Stalin’s tour of villages to attend gram sabhas, which he claimed he began first. It led to a war of words between the DMK and the actor-politician.

Today, Kamal began the first anniversary celebrations by hoisting the party flag at his Alwarpet office in Chennai. He has embarked on a trip to Tiruvarur and is expected to address a mega rally tonight. Sources say, “Kamal Haasan does what he says. He is a mature politician. He will announce the decision to go it alone today. We are focused on Assembly elections. Before that Lok Sabha polls are happening. We don’t want to shy away. We will give it a shot too.”

A sizeable vote share for Kamal this Lok Sabha polls would make him a game-changer and his stakes would go up in the Assembly elections. But everything depends on how he takes his campaign forward, say political observers.

Photo: B Anand

M BHARAT KUMAR