Chennai: Actor Kamal Haasan made his political debut on Wednesday, launching his party named Makkal Needhi Maiam (People Justice Centre). The party flag was unveiled at a public meeting in Madurai.
“People are the leaders. I’m just a tool," Haasan said. Insisting he is “not a leader to give advice, but the one who listens to advice," he added his party should lead by example.
“Providing good quality education is the party’s main objective," said Haasan.
The party flag shows six clasped hands in alternating colours of white and red with a star in the centre. The six hands represent the six southern states, said Haasan.
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder Arvind Kejriwal attended the event along with his party’s MLA Somnath Bharti. Also present were P.R. Pandian, coordinator of Tamil Nadu All Farmers Federation. The AAP leader had called on Haasan in September last year.
Haasan also announced the names of the office-bearers of his party.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a video message wishing Haasan said his entry would enrich Tamil Nadu politics.
On Wednesday, Haasan started a road show from the residence of late president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in Rameswaram, met representatives of the fishing community, paid respects at Kalam’s memorial, visited his hometown Paramakudi and ended with a public meeting in Madurai.
The 63-year-old actor, who had planned to visit the school in which Kalam attended, had to cancel it after being denied permission by the state school education department.
Haasan, who has been critical about state’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in the last one year and has been expressing his political interests, officially announced his political entry in November by launching a whistleblower mobile app called Maiam.
A month later, actor Rajinikanth who first signalled his intent to join politics two decades ago and made some political statements in May last year, announced his political debut. The 67-year-old actor, who is yet to launch his party, has been appointing office-bearers in the last one month. The two actors met on Sunday.
While various changes are expected in Tamil Nadu’s volatile political climate with the new entrants, in a statement addressing his party cadres, working president of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) M.K. Stalin on Tuesday said that due to seasonal changes, flowers may blossom and wither away. Nevertheless, they are “paper flowers without fragrance", he said.
The opposition leader also added that the DMK is a banyan tree with firm roots and branches and cannot be shaken. Haasan was quick to react, “I’m sure he (Stalin) wouldn’t have mentioned me. If that’s the case, I want to convey that I’m not a flower, but a seed."
Stalin’s statement came just two days after the actor called upon DMK president M. Karunanidhi.
Seeman, founder of Naam Tamilar Katchi, who has been highly critical about Rajinikanth’s political venture, met Haasan on Tuesday and wished the actor for his political journey.
Haasan who has been meeting political leaders recently, has not met anyone from the ruling AIADMK. “I have been saying that they are unfit to govern the state," Haasan said.