Rajini won’t contest TN Assembly by-polls; Kamal all set

Chennai: Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth yesterday announced that he would not be contesting in the by-elections to 21 seats in Tamilnadu, while Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan said he would be among his party candidates for the polls.

Addressing media persons at Chennai airport, Rajinikanth said, “People should vote for the party that take genuine efforts resolve water crisis in Tamilnadu.” The actor had entered politics 31 December, 2017 but is yet to launch his party. He had declared last month that his target was assembly polls and not Lok Sabha.

A few days ago, Rajinikanth issued a statement in which he said, “I will not be contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls are our target. For the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, I have not offered my support to any of the parties. Hence, I request you not to use my photo/party flag under the banner of Rajini Makkal Mandram or Rajini Rasigar Mandram (fans association) to campaign or promote any political party. Water shortage is the main issue that Tamilnadu faces. Ahead of the upcoming polls I lovingly request you to analyse, think and vote for a decisive majority at the national level, which you think could solve the water woes of Tamilnadu and introduce adequate schemes to bring a permanent solution. Long live Tamil, may Tamilnadu grow and prosper, Jai Hind,”

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India yesterday allotted the ‘torch light’ symbol to Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). “It is a very suitable symbol and we thank the Election Commission for it,” said the MNM chief speaking to reporters.

He further said his party is making all necessary arrangements and would be contesting in the by-polls to the 18 assembly constituencies to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections on 18 April. When asked whether he would seek Rajinikanth’s support, Kamal said rather than he seeking his backing, his actor friend extending it would be a big thing. Seeking support involved a kind of embarrassment.

His party has decided to fight solo in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls after finding it hard to seal an alliance with any party in Tamilnadu. “Our alliance is very strong, it is with the people,” he said when asked about tie-up with other outfits. He said interview of aspirants seeking tickets to contest the bypolls and Lok Sabha polls would be held from 11 March and that more than 1,130 applications had been received from aspirants.

NT Bureau