Actor Kamal Haasan Launches New Political Party in India
Indian film star Kamal Haasan announced Wednesday the launch of his new political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. According to Haasan, the party will be free from “games of caste and religion” and battle political corruption.
Haasan is a renowned 62 year old actor, director, screenwriter and producer in Tamil cinema. He aims to become the state’s chief minister to fight rampant government communalism and corruption. Makkal Needhi Maiam, roughly translated, means the Centre for People’s Justice.
Tamil Nadu has faced an uncertain political future since the death of chief minister Jayaram Jayalalitha in December 2016. Jayalalitha, also a former film star, entered the political scene in the early 1980s, won control of the AIADMK party, and subsequently led it to victory in 1991.
Tamil Nadu’s current ruling government is AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) which stands in opposition to DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). Both political parties have held power for over 50 years.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has restrained from making strong statements in the past, openly voiced his disapproval of the ruling parties at the launch: "If you want corruption, vote for DMK and AIADMK.”
Tamil Nadu is no stranger to film stars-turned-politicians; three of its chief ministers have been former actors. One of Haasan’s major rivals is Tamil cinema superstar, Rajinikanth, who announced his own political aspirations in December.
With his fans’ support, Rajinikanth promised to work towards honest governance and practice spiritual policies. However, he faces steep opposition due to the fact he is not Tamilian and a declared spiritualist. In contrast, the DMK and AIADMK have led the state with a non-spiritual philosophy, and Haasan too is an atheist.
In recent years, Haasan has increasingly criticized Tamil Nadu politics, targeting the DMK’s and AIADMK’s tactics of buying votes and giving out freebies. He says that Makkal Needhi Maiam will focus on providing quality education and creating employment opportunities.