Ending days of nail-biting suspense, actor Kamal Haasan finally turned a politician by floating Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Party) among rousing reception and in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at Othakadai in Madurai on Wednesday.
While fans and supporters gave ample scope for study in discipline by maintaining decorum till the actor arrived, with the hoisting of the party flag– designed with a combination of black, red and white, showing six hands holding one another to form a circle with a star in the centre–fans erupted in joy.
Fans had gone into an overdrive to make the show grand by setting up a huge LED screen on stage. A flag staff was erected on the ground, with the road leading to the venue from Othakadai lined up with flags bearing Tamil Nadu map in black with Naalai Namadhe etched on them. In a marked departure from the trend in politicial circles, Kamal supporters shunned from fixing flex banners and posters on the road to not inconvenience the public.
However, the restraint gave away while pasting posters of the actor, as many cropped up, with catchy slogans and stills from his movies, on asbestos sheets acting as fence around the meeting area. Thousands of chairs were placed in anticipation of a sea of people. The grandness of the event meant that a couple of mistakes were bound to occur. Two panels of the the giant LED screen collapsed in a wind burst but the issue was addressed soon. For a political leader claiming to be in sync with the pulse of the masses, the meeting had all the bearings of a traditional event, with a silambattam competition being the cynosure.
The excitement was palpable even as the throng of people awaited for the announcement. Advocate M Alagar, in-charge of Madurai District Narpani Mandram, was excited as he felt that Kamal could fill the vacuum of a good leadership. “Even when there were several issues during the times his films were slated for release, he never contemplated joining politics. Therefore, his decision to join politics did come as a surprise,” he said.
Underlining that Kamal was entering politics to serve people, Alagar said that Kamal had asked his fans to dissolve fan clubs and start Narpani Mandrams 37 years ago. “His fans are already carrying out several works for the people. Therefore, it will be easy for his fans to take his policies to the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan received a rousing reception from fans and public during his statewide tour named Naalai Namadhey in Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts on Wednesday.
The actor-turned-politician met people at specially-erected venues at Mandapam, Ramanathapuram, Paramakudi, Manamadurai and Thirupuvanam en route to Madurai, where he was slated to take part in his party’s first public meeting.
Kamal, who addressed the gathering on stage in Ramanathapuram, chose to greet the fans and public from his car owing to lack of time. While addressing a gathering in Ramanathapuram outside the Ramanathapuram Palace, he said, “I am no longer a cinema actor. I shall be henceforth a lamp in every household. It is now your duty to ignite me.”
Meanwhile, Kamal when speaking to the public in Paramakudi said that he was back in his hometown after 40 years and would be back to meet the people soon. Ahead of his visit, elaborate arrangements were made at all venues. Gathered at various venues were fans and people of all ages and from all walks of life, waiting for hours unmindful of the scorching sun to give a grand welcome to Ulaga Nayakan.
If anything could have marred the near-festive atmosphere the venues reflected, it was the brief interaction the actor had with the fans. He was scheduled to meet, interact and address the fans and public in Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Madurai. However, those thronging the special venues were in for disappointment as they could neither get a glimpse of their favourite actor nor listen to him speak for long. Kamal made pit stops at all the scheduled venues, besides stopping by at unplanned points in Mandapam (Ramanathapuram district) and Thirupuvanam (Sivaganga district), took out time to wave, greet and utter brief words, inviting people to participate in the public meeting at Othakadai.
A ripple of displeasure was felt at Rameswaram, where he was to interact with fishermen in a private hall. However, about 200 fishermen of Rameswaram, Pamban and Thangachi Madam hoping to speak on their long-standing issues and submit petitions were dejected when the actor left after a brief five minute talk.
Later, the actor called a few fishermen to a private hotel to hear of their issues. Sundari (41), a native of Paramakudi, said, “I had been waiting to meet our Ulaga Nayagan for about an hour and a half, despite the scorching sun only to watch and listen him speak at length because we all know his words are wise.”
(Inputs from Kaushik Kannan @ Madurai, Vinodh Arulappan & Lalithaa Ranjini @ Ramanathapuram/Sivaganga)
Disappointment for a few
If anything could have marred the near-festive atmosphere the venues reflected, it was the brief interaction the actor had with the fans. He was scheduled to address the fans and public in Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Madurai. However, those thronging the special venues were in for disappointment