Crowds in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district braved rains Wednesday night to listen to actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on his third round of campaigning for the state assembly elections due in May.
Mr Haasan’s political party Makkal Needhi Maiam, launched in February 2018, is expected to be X-factor in this round of elections – the first since the deaths of two giants in Tamil Nadu politics – J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.
Mr Haasan, who aims to step into the breach with his message against corruption, has a list of core issues include good governance, employment, development of villages and a clean environment. He has also promised government salary for housewives and computers with internet for every home.
The actor-politician has high hopes of developing Tamil Nadu into a state where people might not need to visit government offices at all.
“It is a great idea. When implemented, you will realise how much it would improve the profile of economics in world stage… it is making e-governance possible, pragmatic,” he told ENGLISHBULLETIN in an exclusive interview. “Call it populism… the benefits would be exponential,” he added.
E-governance was one of the key promises of the Narendra Modi government. But Mr Haasan is clear on the issue. Tamil Nadu has showed that the BJP “irrelevant” to it going by the recent verdict of the people.
In last year’s Lok Sabha elections, Kamal Haasan’s party had secured nearly 4 per cent votes. In some urban pockets, the figure was 10 per cent. This time he hopes to do much better.
Kamal Haasan’s strategy two-fold-holding indoor meetings to motivate his cadre at the grassroot level and roadshows largely attended by youngsters and women.
At his rallies, Kamal Haasan speaks less but attempts to strike a chord with the masses.
“Those present here should understand one thing. This is a war between honesty and corruption. Your role should be there. History has given this opportunity. Don’t stop after listening to me thinking everything” he tells the crowd.
Launching his campaign in Madurai earlier Kamal Haasan said he is a continuation of MGR’s dream to make Madurai the second capital.
He later reiterated, “I grew up on MGR’s lap” and even released a video showing MGR honouring and expressing his affection.
The 66 year-old invokes AIADMK founder and the state’s late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran. “The relevance of a leader is about the deeds and personality done by him. Those deeds are not permanently imitable deeds. It was a need of that hour and those needs keep changing. I can always invoke the spirit and get excited and inspired about it. For example though MGR did not belong to the party of Mr Kamaraj invoked his name and even copied his ideas. We might do it and even go further. I was quite close to him, I knew him well though not politically” he said.
Mr Haasan has made it clear that he wants to enlist the support of superstar Rajinikanth, who recently opted out of politics on health grounds. “I will seek Rajinikanth’s support. Any goodwill will help. He is a friend,” he added.