Leading actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Wednesday launched his political party and named it as ‘Makkal Needhi Maiam’ (People’s Justice Party) and also unfurled the party flag in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai.
“This is a party for the people. I am not a leader. The name of the party is Makkal Needhi Maiam,” Haasan said.
“This is not a one day thing. This is a long term goal,” the actor added.
“This is a party for the people. We have a responsibility. This isn’t a one day show,” Kamal Haasan said while addressing the gathering.
Continuing with his speech, Haasan said, “You must be an example to the present day political system and I will be seeking your suggestion rather than giving you speeches.”
“I have shown you a morsel of the government I can cook for people here. The people who have gathered here are people who have enraged by the corruption prevalent in the state,” Kamal Haasan said.
Haasan’s party flag is a circle of hands holding one another with colours — Red, White and Black.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Tamil Nadu in-charge Somnath Bharti were also present along with Haasan.
Kejriwal had met Haasan in Chennai in September 2017, when the actor had started dropping hints of taking the political plunge.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also congratulated Kamal Haasan via pre-recorded message on his party launch.
Haasan kicked off the event with a state-wide tour in Madurai. He began his political journey by visiting the house of A P J Abdul Kalam in Ramanathapuram, describing the former president as his “role model”.
Haasan received the blessings of the late leader’s centenarian brother Mohammed Muthumeeran Lebbai Maraikkayar.
“Greatness can come from simple beginnings. Actually it will come only from simplicity. Glad to start my journey from a great man’s simple abode,” he said in a tweet on his visit to Kalam’s residence where a large number of his supporters gathered.
Earlier, he briefly interacted with Maraikkayar. Kalam’s family presented a memento carrying an image of the former president to Haasan. He also paid homage at the memorial of the ‘missile man’ at Peikarumbu.
However, Haasan’s plans to visit a school where Kalam studied could not fructify as the local administration denied permission, saying it was “political” in nature.
He had planned to address the students of the school at 8 AM. However, the Mandapam Assistant Elementary Education Officer denied permission on the ground that if politicians were allowed to talk to the school children, it would create confusion among the kids, official sources said.
But the actor-director said there was “no politics” in his visit to Kalam’s house or the proposed one to the school.
“Kalam who came from a simple house is an important person for me.. a role model. I am happy to have gone there. It was a planned visit, there is no politics in the visit to his house,” he later told reporters.
Haasan praised, among others, Kalam’s patriotism and aspirations, saying he was attracted by such characteristics in him.
“A part of my learning is his life. That is why I went to the school. I wanted to go the school where he studied. There was no politics in the school visit also. They can prevent me from going to school but not from learning,” he said.
Referring to the lyrics of a song from one of his films, Haasan said he was prepared to learn if he had to do so “by breaking barriers”.
Asked what difference he saw between his avatars as an actor and that as a politician, he said the former has a bit of “barter system” in it.
“Cinema is a medium to connect with people and so is politics. But there is more responsibility as a politician. It was like barter system-there (in cinema) — their (people’s) money for my talent. But there is no such thing here (in politics),” he said.
However, there was more responsibility and honour in his new avatar as a politician, he said.
On being hailed by his fans and supporters as as ‘Nammavar’ (our man) ahead of his political plunge, Haasan said it amounts to people “owning me up as their man.”
Haasan has starred in a film titled ‘Nammavar.’ “It is the name of a film. My fans are aware of it. It’s owning me up, it’s our man, that’s what it means,” he said.
Replying to a question, he said anyone with a passion, time and desire to join politics should do so.
“Even you (journalists) should come to politics. Once advocates used to come to politics in large numbers… no body questioned… when actors come people question,” he added.
Haasan said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu spoke to him last night and advised him to prepare a list of public welfare initiatives rather than spelling out policies. He said he considered Naidu as one of his heroes in politics.
The veteran actor also said he had lived in the hearts of fans but now wanted to live in people’s homes in his new role.
To a question on why he did not take part in Kalam’s funeral, Haasan said, “I don’t attend funerals. My belief is like that.”
During his visit here, the actor also interacted with members of fishermen community and said though he was aware of their problems through media, he wanted to hear it from themselves. “Henceforth, it will happen so,” he said hinting at more such frequent interactions.
After the media interaction, Haasan left for Madurai, about 170 km from Ramanathapuram, and addressed the public at some places, including his native Paramakudi, en route.