The Register of Societies of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday issued a statement announcing its decision to stop the elections of South Indian Film Artists Association, known as Nadigar Sangam, which was due on June 23. The Register has said that it is investigating several complaints, including revoking voting rights of some members of the Nadigar Sangam.
According to the letter, about 61 members, who voted in the last election, have filed complaints with the Register as they were made ineligible to vote in the upcoming elections. The association has said it need some time to look into the concerns raised by some members.
Recently, The Madras High Court also ordered Nadigar Sangam to change the venue after Chennai police declined to provide security for the elections. The police opined that Dr. MGR Janaki College of Arts and Science in Raja Annamalaipuram selected by the association was not an ideal venue to conduct elections, which will see the descending of stars of the Tamil film industry.
Nadigar Sangam has been neck deep in controversies since the last few years. The last election was marked by a bitter campaign causing deep cracks in the Tamil film fraternity.
The upcoming election is also likely to be marred by infighting between the members of the association and allegations of corruption against incumbent office bearers.
Here’s a timeline of the 2019 Nadigar Sangam elections:
April 28, 2019: The Sangam called for an urgent general body meeting to institute an election official to take all election related decisions. Vice president Ponvannan said: “Many hurdles and legal issues resulted in the delay. Work on the building is progressing briskly now.”
May 10: Vishal announced his wedding date. Said it would take place in the Nadigar Sangam building on October 9, 2019. (Before he was elected to power in 2015, the actor had said he wouldn’t get married until the building is complete.)
May 14: Retired judge E Padmanabhan appointed to conduct elections. A notice issued said eligibility criteria for anyone contesting included payment of membership fees between 2013 and 2019, no outgoing dues, payment of election deposit, etc.
May 15: Amidst speculation about the team opposite Nasser, actors T Rajendher, Simbu, S Ve Shekar and Radhika Sarathkumar confirmed they were not contesting elections. The land dispute case against ex-office bearers Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi is pending, so they cannot file nominations.
May 22: Speculations about Radhika contesting elections with Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi’s backing began doing the rounds once again after Vishal hinted at an alliance by meeting Radhika and Sarathkumar over lunch.
June 3: Film producer, actor and owner of Vels Institutions Ishari Ganesh switched sides and said he would contest opposite Vishal for general secretary. He had recently donated Rs 1 crore for the Sangam building.
June 8: Pandavar Ani filed nominations with big names on its side. Actors Poochi Murugan and Karunas replaced Ponvannan as vice president. The 19 other members included Kushboo, Manobala, Vignesh, Nandhaa and Kovai Sarala.
They promised that the grand Sangam building with a wedding hall and other facilities would be completed in the next four to six months.
Nasser said there would be no political involvement in his team, but met Kamal Haasan soon after filing the nominations, and pictures of the meeting were circulated widely.
June 9: Sankardas Ani filed nominations with Bhagyaraj for president, Ishari Ganesh for gen secretary, Prashanth for treasurer and actors Poornima Bhagyaraj, Harathi Ganesh, Gayathri Raghuram, Ramesh Kanna, Vemal and Sreekanth on its side.
They also promised completion of the Nadigar Sangam building, and said that Rs 15 crore to 20 crore was further needed to complete the building.
Bhagyaraj also said he decided to contest elections only after consulting Rajinikanth and Kamal.
June 10: Bharathiraja was unanimously elected president of the Directors’ Association. He said his support was for his student Bhagyaraj.
June 11: Vishal clarified that both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth had not supported either team. Karunas filed a complaint with the election officer against Bhagyaraj for his remarks accusing the Pandavar Ani of bribing members for votes.
June 11: Vijay Sethupathi said he spoke to one of the teams and was convinced by its promises. “Many families are dependent on Nadigar Sangam’s work. It’s not just the 150-odd people who are covered by media. So, I hope that that whoever comes to power will do good work,” he said.
June 11: The final list of contestants accepted and rejected was released at night. Nine nominations were rejected for pending dues, non-payment of membership fee, etc. This included Vemal and Ramesh Kanna from Sanakardas Ani.
June 13: Vishal’s Pandavar Ani met Kamal Haasan for the second time and shared pictures.
They also released a promotional video saying their team was formed to fight the alleged corruption by previous office bearers Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi, and that they would uphold the Sangam’s values.
June 14: Vishal’s one-time friend Varalaxmi Sarathkumar slammed him for the video that named her father and previous head Sarathkumar and mentioned the land dispute allegation against him that has not yet been proved. This, when Vishal has not proved himself an able leader, she wrote on Twitter.
“Everyone knows your double standards and lies. If you were such a saint, I don’t think people from your own so-called Pandavar Ani would have left and created a group to bring you down,” she said.
June 14: Bhagyaraj’s Sankardas Ani met Kamal Haasan once again and shared pictures.