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After the ballot rout, Kamal Haasan faces riot, an unsure political future


In Tamil cinema, Kamal Haasan is taken into account an mental. Haasan, a author, singer, choreographer, persistently broke new floor along with his performing, tales and expertise. He may play a hero, a drunk, a lady, a dwarf and even a former United States president. So, it was solely anticipated that when Haasan made a political foray, he would base it on providing one thing new. In his phrases, “a change” and “an alternative”.

Haasan launched Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) in 2018. The occasion contested within the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with a 3.7% vote share that it garnered predominantly from city areas, however within the 2021 meeting elections, the fledgling occasion’s efficiency diminished, with simply 2.5%. Within the outcomes declared on Could 2, all of the occasion’s candidates — 135 from MNM and the others contested by allies — misplaced within the 234-seat meeting. Haasan, the chief ministerial candidate, who examined his hustlings in Coimbatore South constituency, misplaced to BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan in a contest that went right down to the wire.

The submit defeat exodus

However he’s going through a much bigger battle after the electoral debacle, with outstanding faces and the occasion’s senior leaders who had been related to him because the occasion’s formation quitting the occasion.

It began with the resignation of occasion vice-president R Mahendran who was additionally the occasion’s finest performing candidate in Coimbatore South in 2019. In a 12-page letter to Haasan, he blamed him for listening to an election marketing consultant firm, Sankhya Options, as a substitute of occasion functionaries. “I am sad to say that there is a decline in your tenacity of purpose, which lies buried under a style of operation that reeks of a non-democratic manner of running a political party. I will leave you to decipher who your true loyalists are,” Mahendran’s letter learn.

Additionally Learn | Kamal Haasan loses Coimbatore south to BJP’s Vanathi by a skinny margin

Following Mahendran, there was an exodus with normal secretary and former IAS officer Santhosh Babu, CK Kumaravel, M Muruganandam, and surroundings wing secretary Padma Priya quitting. Those that had been vocal after their exit criticised Haasan as being an autocratic chief and counting on fallacious recommendation.

Haasan shot again in a four-minute video message launched on Could 24. He mentioned those that give up didn’t take duty for the occasion’s defeat. “I will be in politics till the time I am alive. Makkal Needhi Maiam will continue as a party as long as politics exist,” he mentioned.

Two occasion leaders, who didn’t want to be named, mentioned that Haasan blamed everybody else besides himself for the occasion’s defeat. “After Mahendran’s resignation, everyone’s morale was down. We had a review meeting the next day and he told everyone, ‘It’s your fault’,” mentioned a celebration member who had attended the assembly. These holding senior positions, together with late President Abdul Kalam’s former secretary V Ponraj, stepped down from their posts to rejig the occasion.

Those that left additionally criticised Haasan for not selecting a Chennai constituency and going for Coimbatore South as a substitute. Mahendran had come third in Coimbatore within the 2019 parliamentary elections. He registered a 16% vote share within the Coimbatore South section. “Kamal basically stole his lieutenant’s seat,” mentioned a political commentator who didn’t want to be recognized.

The precept, the apply and the disjunct

In February, the MNM handed 25 resolutions, which included coronating Haasan as their “Permanent Leader”. This was akin to a character pushed tradition in Tamil Nadu politics that Haasan was promising to vary — but it didn’t spark the dissent that isn’t being witnessed after the ballot defeat. After J Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016 and the ouster for her submit VK Sasikala, the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam (AIADMK) declared that Jayalalithaa could be the everlasting normal secretary of the occasion. It’s the high most place within the AIADMK beforehand held by its founder M G Ramachandran (MGR). Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch M Karunanidhi too was occasion president although he was ailing and till his demise in August 2018. Haasan was following of their footsteps, with the occasion and the chief being synonymous.

Haasan articulated his admiration for a number of political function fashions. Like a number of leaders in Tamil Nadu politics, he claimed MGR’s legacy, espoused Gandhian values and aspired to be an alternate like Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Occasion (AAP) chief Arvind Kejrival. “But the party is becoming more like Congress where the high command refuses to accept its mistakes and blames the cadre,” mentioned the MNM member quoted above.

In Tamil Nadu’s politics dominated by the 2 Dravidian events, there have all the time been smaller events who both wished to emerge as a substitute pressure or type a 3rd entrance. Voters who’re dissatisfied with the DMK and AIADMK type the pool that shift to those different events. A few of these events are caste-based and in 2021 they allied with the 2 majors formations. Tamil nationalist S Seeman’s Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK) is presently the third largest occasion within the state with 6.7% vote share.

Haasan’s MNM fought the election on an anti-corruption ballot plank promising clear governance. The occasion was stuffed with former bureaucrats and social activists, with no seasoned politicians, demonstrating that MNM wished to develop outdoors a conventional political system.

As an illustration, Santosh Babu, voluntarily retired from service in August 2020 after helming the Tamil Nadu Fibrenet Company (TANFINET) between 2018-19 in his capability as principal secretary, Info Expertise division. On the day he had joined, he spoke of the pressures he confronted throughout his stint as the highest IT official to signal on a young. Babu had mentioned that he had obtained a suggestion from the Prime Minister’s workplace to turn out to be the CEO of the MyGov platform however he needed to flip it right down to deal with his work within the state. He didn’t want to communicate on why he give up however mentioned that he would proceed to be in politics. “I believe Tamil Nadu’s potential is sky high and there is only so much I can do as a bureaucrat. As a politician, as an honest politician, we can change the state into a world-class economy,” mentioned Babu.

Haasan’s assist base additionally got here from his fan base and his utopian speeches on the necessity to clear a corrupt system by putting politicians with integrity captured the creativeness of city children.

“But eventually, there was no transparency even here,” mentioned a second occasion member. Within the days main as much as the polls, MNM inducted Pazha Karuppiah who had beforehand been with each Dravidian events. MNM additionally teamed up with actor Sarath Kumar’s Samathuva Makkal Katchi (SMK) and Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) who had walked out from the AIADMK and DMK alliance respectively and curiously gave them 37 and 40 seats to contest inside the alliance.

The ideological ambiguity

Haasan’s ideology has additionally been considerably obscure. Whereas he was against Dravidian events, he drew on beliefs of Periyar E V Ramasamy, thought of the daddy of the Dravidian motion. His critics name him a ‘B-team’ of the Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP), pointing to his Brahmin caste — which is a baggage in Dravidian politics, though Jayalalithaa, additionally a Brahmin, was capable of steer clear from it regardless of her open apply of Hinduism.

Critics additionally questioned Haasan’s assist for Anna College vice-chancellor M Ok Surappa, a BJP appointee, who the earlier AIADMK regime had put underneath investigation. Haasan, nonetheless, has critiqued the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insurance policies. He envisions a caste-free society however his stance in direction of that finish has been criticised as ill-informed.

“Kamal Haasan has promised to be different, but he is not clear on how he will be different,” says political commentator Maalan Narayanan. “Structurally there is a problem. He is the only leader and there is no second line leadership. They relied entirely on his campaign and thought people would get carried away but that didn’t yield results.”

To depend on Haasan’s star energy is anticipated in a state the place former chief ministers are matinee idols corresponding to MGR, Jayalalithaa and scriptwriter Karunanidhi. Haasan can also be the host of Large Boss in Tamil in his try to straight join with the viewers and subsequently his citizens. However the paths taken by his predecessors are vastly totally different which his up to date Rajinikanth additionally couldn’t match up regardless of having a cult following internationally. Rajinikanth give up politics two weeks after saying his entry in December 2020.

MGR, Karunanidhi and subsequently Jayalalithaa had been entrenched in Dravidian politics and used movies to propagate the political ideology and didn’t have a clean rise to the highest till they consolidated their positions. MGR’s up to date Sivaji Ganesan was a poor present in politics. Haasan is commonly in comparison with Ganesan in his performing prowess in addition to his political fortunes.

Specialists, nonetheless, don’t write off MNM however say it requires extra persistence and an overhaul in its type of functioning. “Though Kamal Haasan says Kejriwal is his idol, he didn’t follow his ground-level work. Kejriwal contested against Sheila Dixit but Haasan didn’t pick a strong opponent,” says Narayanan. “He has to start at the grassroots, from the bottom and not from the top. He has to talk to the common man to understand his problems and not address what he perceives to be a problem. If corruption was the biggest problem for people of Tamil Nadu both DMK and AIADMK wouldn’t exist.”

MNM’s normal secretary AG Maurya and Sankya Options’ Suresh Iyer didn’t reply to HT’s calls and messages.

On Could 7, the corporate launched an announcement denying the allegations. “The news against us is complete fabrication of lies by Dr Mahendran with ulterior motives against the party and the president. We have been used as a scape goat and collateral damage, since we are bound by confidentiality, we choose not to issue a point-by-point rebuttal.”

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