Will Tamil Nadu’s soft power icons make a smooth transition to politics?

After remaining as two soft-power centres who seldom, if ever, dabbled in politics, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth have made their political aspirations clear in the recent past.

Published: 23rd September 2017 02:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2017 07:40 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: They are titans of the industry, who command big numbers in the box office. But will the two new kids on the block, sexagenarian actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, be able to replicate their success in the ballot box?

After remaining as two soft-power centres who seldom, if ever, dabbled in politics, the two have made their political aspirations clear in the recent past. This came at a time when there is a void left by the death of AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa and the virtual absence of DMK president M Karunanidhi, which has led to the dawn of a new political scenario in the State.

Many here believe their entry would be sooner than later, as the next Assembly elections may well be advanced by two years to hold it along with 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Though it was Rajini who gave indications of entering public life, his colleague and box office rival Kamal Haasan has taken the lead in being part of public debate. If his meetings with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of the CPI (M) and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of AAP were not clear enough, Haasan followed it up with an interview with a national television channel where he stated willingness to be the Chief Minister.

“Four things are important for a politician - strategy, tactic, fight and policy. On all these points, Kamal is yet to reveal his strength. When he comes to politics, inevitably, he has to oppose not only AIADMK but also DMK. Joining hands with Left parties and other smaller outfits that suit his mindset may be good for him,” said a senior journalist Shyam. Though many have criticised celebrities entering politics, Shyam said Haasan was a fit candidate to enter public life. “But he should know that it is not a bed of roses,” he added, noting the political challenge of having to take on the two Dravidian majors and also the two national parties - BJP and the Congress.

Political analyst Ravindran Duraisamy is sceptical about Haasan’s success, pointing out that his planks - anti-corruption and secularism - are propounded as the key policies by almost all political parties. He also added that his fan base is comparatively less than what Rajinikanth enjoys. “Both are entering the fray in the absence of the two established leaders, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. But how far the people are going to accept them is a big question,” he added.

Not all are softening their blows. Noted activist S P Udayakumar, who contested as an AAP candidate before floating his own outfit, was scathing when he described the actor’s public life aspirations based only on the claim of having fan following.  

“If he wants to enter politics, let him come to public life, work for the people and face the real problems. But without doing anything, if he says I am intending to become the CM, such an attitude stems from ‘God Complex’ - that I alone can solve all problems of the people,” said Udayakumar.

While Haasan has gone hyperactive, Rajini went silent since then. “He is busy in Kaala film shooting which is  expected to last 20 more days. He is keeping a watch on the latest developments. Rajini will definitely make an announcement about his political entry. There is no going back,” said a person close to him.

Other actor-netas

  • SS Rajendran, first actor who became MLA in India
  • MG Ramachandran, three times Chief Minister
  • J Jayalalithaa, who had six terms as CM
  • Sivaji Ganesan  was with DMK, Cong, Janata Dal. Then floated Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani
  • From K Bhagyaraj, who floated MGR Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam in 1989
  • T Rajendar who runs All India Latchiya DMK
  • Khushbu (Cong)
  • D Napoleon (DMK turned BJP).......... the list is long.


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