Actor Kamal Haasan joined the ranks of several superstars of the Tamil film fraternity who made a foray into the political arena. Kamal made his political ambitions public many months ago, and today, he announced the name of his outfit and unveiled its flag. The name of Kamal Haasan’s Party is “Makkal Needhi Maiam (roughly translated to People’s Justice Centre).
The newly founded MAKKAL NEEDHI MAIAM is your party. It’s here to stay, and to make the change we all aspire for. Guide us to serve you. #maiam #makkalneedhimaiam
official website: https://t.co/cql8kgqGkk
twitter: https://t.co/J9ywXrunOb pic.twitter.com/Xza62w4DcC
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) February 21, 2018
Kamal Haasan generated a lot of buzz ever since he announced his political ambitions, but whether his outfit strikes big on the ground or remains a television studio phenomenon, is something time will tell.
So far, what we know about his outfit is that it is a muddle of several ideologies and ideas (as per Kamal Haasan, neither left, nor right. I am in center). The outfit is supposed to be Dravidian in its outlook. In his outreach, Kamal met the Communist leadership of Kerala, Delhi chief minister and AAP president Arvind Kejriwal (who sat in the party launch as the chief guest), DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, superstar Rajnikanth who in turn announced his own political ambitions, and representatives of several other movements and communities.
The only pointers about the party’s agenda other than its Dravidian outlook is Kamal Haasan’s message that it won’t be a saffron party and his constant criticism of the AIADMK state government. With no clear indication as to what the party stands for or whom it represents, it looks like a hastily created hotchpotch attempting to please everyone.
Although such a model does remind us of the Aam Aadmi Party in its heyday, where it was critical of the government, critical of the so-called saffron forces, and a platform for every movement and every activist, people are skeptical about its electoral success. To begin with, the outfit doesn’t seem to have a one-pointed agenda, which the Aam Aadmi Party had as the supposed crusaders against corruption. Moreover, it hasn’t originated from a movement like India Against Corruption. Both Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth’s sudden political ambitions are results of the massive political void in the state that needs to be filled. After the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, constant infighting and power struggles in the ruling AIADMK, a receding opposition in the form of M Karunanidhi, and other smaller players unable to make a mark, have left a massive political void in the state.
How much of a difference Kamal Haasan’s stature as a superstar makes electorally is something only time will tell!
Although it is true that the state has been ruled by superstars or people belonging to the film industry, Kamal might not effectively leverage his image as a superstar for three reasons.
1.) Firstly, people consider him to be past his prime
2.) Secondly, the state has a host of film-related faces to choose from and Kamal doesn’t stand out particularly
3.) Thirdly, the void that Kamal looks to fill is something Rajnikanth is targeting as well. Kamal’s stature and popularity is no match to Rajni’s in the state.
In the last few years, several actors in Tamil Nadu have attempted to make a foray into politics. The only one who tasted marginal success was Vjiaykanth. Although even he had to ally with Jayalilathaa to have a sizeable contingent in the assembly, at least he has established a dedicated voter-base for himself. All other attempts by actors to make a foray into politics in recent times have fallen flat. As of now, the hype around Kamal Haasan’s foray seems to be generated in television studios. Whether he has the mass-appeal and the political acumen to make a real dent, remains to be seen.