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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Explained: How Kamal Haasan is placed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls

Kamal Haasan is neither a good orator nor a communicator, but he has been increasingly efficient in putting across his messages in simple terms. 

Written by Arun Janardhanan , Edited by Explained Desk | Chennai |
Updated: March 16, 2021 12:34:12 pm
Kamal haasan, Kamal haasan political relevance, tamil nadu elections,Makkal Needhi Maiam, kamal haasan alliance, indian express, express explainedKamal Haasan getting the Covid vaccine on Wednesday. (Photo: Twitter/@ikamalhaasan)

Kamal Haasan was never an MGR but rather a Sivaji Ganesan, one who was a much revered and beloved actor in Tamil cinema. However, when he launched his political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), in February 2018, his superstar status had somewhat waned. All that Kamal had were lofty political dreams with a pinch of socialism, neither a political background nor a fan base with ideological conviction.

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So, where does Kamal stand three years since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections — MNM’s debut outing — and in the run-up to his first Assembly polls?

His popularity and where he could contest from

Even as his rallies witnessed a decent crowd almost everywhere in the 2019 elections owing to his celebrity status, Kamal seemed more popular among the urban population than rural in Tamil Nadu, maybe owing to his Sivaji-like image. While MGR and Rajinikanth were mass heroes, the strength of Captain Vijayakanth too was his popularity among the rural masses.

However, Kamal, who often speaks for the poor and the villages, is likely to contest from a constituency in Chennai city this time, most likely Alandur, which is largely known for its upper-caste Hindu population.

The reason he is unlikely to choose Mylapore is probably that over time, the neighborhood has developed into an increasingly complex population, with at least six slums sandwiched between its temples, sabhas and mutts, and is no more a powerful Brahmin, upper-class stronghold.

Alandur, on the other hand, has a significant middle-class population, especially young voters who belong to Chennai’s IT industry and other better-paying jobs, in its recently emerged residential neighbourhoods.

MNM’s vote share 

Kamal’s party had a vote share of 3.72 per cent in the last Lok Sabha polls, which was significant as MNM was hardly 14 months old when it faced the polls.

What gained MNM a better percentage, more than what the popular Left parties in the state couldn’t ensure always, was Kamal’s popularity among a section of urban voters, including those upper caste voters who love Kamal in spite of his non-religious Brahmin identity.

In the Lok Sabha elections, the maximum votes (1.45 lakh) was bagged by his party candidate, R Mahendran, in Coimbatore. In three of the four seats in Chennai city, Kamal’s party had up to one lakh votes.

Why should people vote for Kamal

Kamal is neither a good orator nor a communicator, but he has been increasingly efficient in putting across his messages in simple terms.

He doesn’t talk much about state rights or reservation but his campaigns focus largely on slogans for an “honest and corruption-free government” and promises employment for the youth.

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Alliance 

Kamal is expected to declare his alliance plans on March 7. Currently standing outside AIADMK and DMK alliances, Kamal recently got the support of actor Sarath Kumar’s smaller outfit that banks on Nadar community votes in southern Tamil Nadu. Sources said either he would gather support from smaller parties and establish a third front or he would continue his efforts to get a space on board the DMK alliance in the next one week, especially if Congress or any of the major DMK allies quit.

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