Tamil Nadu minister D Jayakumar on Monday hit out at actor Kamal Haasan over his allegations of corruption against the state government, asking him to refrain from making “generalised comments”. The finance minister also asked the popular actor to make such comments after entering politics, adding that he did not have the “guts” to do so. Jayakumar wondered why Haasan had not levelled such allegations when late chief minister J Jayalalithaa was alive and questioned why he was speaking out now.
“Even if he speaks, there should be truth in it. There is not an iota of truth (in his allegations). It is just mudslinging on the government and therefore we are also responding,” he told reporters here.
“He (Haasan) has no guts to enter politics. But making generalised comments to malign (the government) is not acceptable,” he said. The minister’s statement comes days after his cabinet colleagues S P Velumani and C Ve Shanmugam had hit out at the actor for charging the government with corruption. Velumani had sought evidence from Haasan to back his charge and also asked whether the actor was ready to furnish details of the taxes he had paid for his films. Law Minister Shanmugam wanted a case to be filed against Haasan.
The 62-year-old actor, however, was supported by many opposition parties.
Rebel AIADMK leader and former chief minister O Panneerselvam said everyone was entitled to express their opinions in a democracy. “That right cannot be taken away by those in power. It will be a good democratic approach to give a proper reply to a differing opinion,” he told reporters.
Opposition Leader M K Stalin pointed out that his party had also been raising the issue of corruption against the ruling AIADMK. “So are you (AIADMK) ready to file case against us also? If yes, we are ready to face it in court,” he said.
Haasan found support from the CPI’s state unit, who backed him on his corruption allegations, and also argued against “intimidating” statements aimed at him. The actor had only exercised his freedom of expression, and many incidents in the state, including rescinding of the RK Nagar bypoll were proof of corruption, CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan said.
The April 12 bypoll to RK Nagar, necessitated following the death of Jayalalithaa, had been cancelled by the Election Commission following allegations of money power. “It is condemnable that statements amounting to intimidation are being made against Kamal Haasan,” he said in a statement.
CPI(M) also came to Haasan’s defence, saying criticism was a constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens. “CPI(M) state committee strongly condemns some senior ministers targeting Kamal Haasan for exercising that right and making unsavoury criticism against him,” the party’s state unit Secretary G Ramakrishnan said. He said AIADMK party leaders and ministers “should not forget” that its General Secretary V K Sasikala was in jail in connection with a corruption case. Ramakrishnan said the ministers could come up with adequate response to Haasan’s charge, but it was “not proper to ask whether he had paid taxes for his films.”