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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Kamal Haasan’s MNM to go it alone in TN rural civic polls

The decision comes in the wake of the party’s poor performance in the 2021 Assembly polls.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: September 17, 2021 7:49:30 pm
Kamaal Haasan, Tamil Nadu, MNM, Tamil Nadu rural local body elections, DMK, AIADMK, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Vellore, Indian express, Chennai news, Indian Express newsMakkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder-president Kamal Haasan. (File)

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) is set to face the Tamil Nadu rural local body elections alone. The party high command has taken the decision following its poor performance in the 2021 assembly polls in which MNM joined hands with parties like All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi and Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi, which hardly had any vote share in the state.

Taking to Twitter Thursday, Haasan made the announcement while assuring that he will campaign in all nine districts in which the polls are being held in two phases.

The party had earlier announced that it will field 1,521 candidates in the polls which are being held in Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupathur, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi districts on October 6 and 9.

MNM made its electoral debut in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls which it contested alone and managed to grab just 3.7 per cent of the vote share. In 2021, however, the party saw its vote share fall to 2.5 per cent owing to the weak alliance. Following this, many frontline leaders including vice-president R Mahendran quit the party and joined the DMK. Haasan soon announced a revamp in MNM.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, MNM Secretary Senthil Arumugam said the decision to fight the polls alone was taken unanimously with the hope that the party will bounce back. “We decided to form an alliance in the Assembly polls because a third front was needed at that time as an alternative to the DMK and the AIADMK, but the results didn’t go in our favour. In the local body elections, however, we wish to fight alone and analyse our actual voter base,” he said.

Commenting on the importance of grama sabhas, Arumugam claimed the MNM played a vital role in putting the spotlight on these local units of governance. He said Haasan has himself taken part in grama sabha meetings, besides conducting model meetings.

“Grama sabhas have been in existence in the state since 1996 as per the Panchayat Raj Act 1994, but after our party leader took part in these meetings and raised more public awareness, this became a political subject. Earlier, only activists and NGOs talked about the importance of grama panchayats. MNM has played a huge role in bringing them into the political limelight, he added. Haasan had in August met Coimbatore Collector GS Sameeran and submitted a memorandum urging resumption of grama sabha meetings.

Arumugam pointed out that MNM members have regularly been taking part in grama sabha meetings conducted four times a year and hence people won’t think they are approaching them just before the elections. “That good perception and goodwill would definitely help the party. But having said that, we know rural penetration is tough. It’s difficult not just for MNM but even for other parties to go to the grassroots and get their support. We are hoping to put forth our best performance,” he said.

District-level functionaries of the party have been instructed to address the public over existing local issues and assure them of prompt redressal if MNM workers are elected. The party high command has also formed teams to select candidates based on inputs from district office-bearers.

Haasan’s travel plan is being scheduled by functionaries. Once the nomination process is over, the MNM chief will visit the districts and explain the party agenda to the public. As per reports, the actor-turned-politician will travel in an open van, staging meetings in select villages.

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