Kamal Haasan's political journey: Here's what we know of the actor's tryst with politics so far
There has been a lot of conjecture surrounding Kamal Haasan and his expected entry into politics, with the actor himself dropping a few hints in the recent past, along with making several politically charged statements. Here is a chronological summary of events that give us a better look at the will-he-won't-he' storm around Haasan's political journey thus far.
Corruption in Tamil Nadu politics
The actor made a very public comment on how there was corruption in all the state government departments in Tamil Nadu, and in his following statements on the matter, Haasan urged the public to report the corruption online after the Tamil Nadu government dared the actor to provide proof of the instances of graft within its departments. In a tweet, Haasan requested his fans and the discerning people of Tamil Nadu to send complaints against corruption of the ministers concerned in a digital format, noting that complaints on paper would be torn and thrown away. The actor had requested the people explain the travails faced by them due to corruption and also ask questions in a respectable manner.
Haasan's poetic tweet
Haasan set his Twitter followers and others wracking their minds with a Tamil poem that sounded as though he was signaling his entry into politics.
"Let us criticise as nobody now is the king. We will stand up as we are not a king like you. Defeated and dead then militant. If I decide, I am Chief Minister. Those who bow are they slaves? Those who give up crown are they losers? It is wrong chase them as fools. The paths which are not searched will not be seen. Come with me friend, one who attempts to avoid fanaticism/superstition is a leader (sic)," Kamal had tweeted, and at the time, many took it as a subtle signal of the actor's entry into the political scenario.
Haasan attends DMK function
The two big stars of the Tamil movie world, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, attended the 75th anniversary celebrations of DMK mouthpiece, Tamil daily Murasoli on 10 August. Haasan, who had of late been very critical of the AIADMK government, was seated on the dais next to DMK working president MK Stalin. Rajinikanth, who is also rumoured to be planning his entry in politics, was seated along with other dignitaries.
"Indians cannot attain true freedom unless freed from scourge of corruption"
On 15 August, Haasan was quoted as saying that Indians cannot attain true freedom until they are freed of the scourge of corruption. "Till there is no freedom from corruption, we are still slaves. Those who dare and vow for a new freedom movement. Come and we will win," said the actor in a tweet.
In another tweet, the actor said: "My aim is a better Tamil Nadu. Who dares to strengthen my voice? DMK, AIADMK and parties are tools to help. If those tools are blunt, find others." He also questioned why no one called for resignation of the Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu on the issue of mishaps and corruption in the state. Without naming anyone, he said in a tweet: "If one state's Chief Minister should resign for a mishap and corruption under his government, how come no party calls for resignation in Tamil Nadu? Enough crimes done."
Haasan faces the ire of AIADMK after insinuating he "entered politics through Twitter"
After the actor made a number of political comments especially against the AIADMK, the political party retaliated with statements of their own, after Haasan insinuated that he had entered politics "through Twitter".
Kamal told the media that he has started his campaign towards the "fort", an apparent reference to Chennai's Fort St George, the seat of power in Tamil Nadu. "Whether it is from Kovai (Coimbatore) or through Twitter, the march towards fort started (sic). It doesn't matter from where," he said in reply to questions.
Tamil Nadu minister D Jayakumar, whose party and government has been Kamal's target, took a dig at him saying Kamal appeared to be dependent more on social media than on party and workers. "Theorising in politics doesn't work," he said.
BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan said Kamal was dreaming of capturing the "fort" (power) through social media. She had a word of counsel for him saying politics required hard work and toil. "I would welcome anyone in politics provided he works with the people and encounters the rough and tumble of politics," she said.
Meet and greet with the Kerala Chief Minister
Haasan met the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 1 September and discussed, among other things, the political situation in Tamil Nadu. Revealing this, Vijayan said in a Facebook post that they have known each other for long and they always meet whenever the actor visits Kerala. "Today's meeting was the first one after I became Chief Minister. Even though the visit was personal in nature, we discussed south Indian politics and also the overall political situation in Tamil Nadu," he said.
"My colour is not saffron"
In a revelation of sorts, after meeting the Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Haasan promptly declared that "saffron" — an oblique reference to the BJP and RSS — was not his colour. He also stated that he won't align with any political party in Tamil Nadu, telling the media that he would be on his own.
"My colour is definitely not saffron. That much I can say now. I have got huge support from people as an artiste. If I am able to get half of this in politics, then I will be successful," Haasan told the media, in response to questions about whether he would swing to the Left or Right.
When asked about whether he would discuss his political moves with the AIADMK, he said: "If I had to do that, then I did not have to wait. All that I needed to do was to clap my hands."
Responding to a question on why he chose to make this statement after meeting Kerala's Chief Minister, he said Communist leaders had always been his heroes. "You just look at the statistics of Kerala and it's comparable to any European country," he said. When journalists persisted and asked if he would align with the Left, he shot back: "It will happen soon. I want to be in the middle of things and do not want to lean to any side."
Haasan locks horns with AIADMK again
Taking on Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK again, but in an indirect manner, on 15 September, the actor wondered why the principle of "no work, no pay" should not apply to legislators who move into resorts. Kamal Hassan tweeted: "No work no pay only for government employees? How about horse trading politicians languishing in resorts? The honourable court warns teachers on strike. I beseech the court to issue similar warnings to those MLAs who desist from attending work."
A Rajini-Kamal partnership?
Amidst news that he is planning to launch his own party, Haasan said he would be willing to join hands with superstar Rajinikanth if he takes the political plunge.
"Rajini and I have been discussing professional matters. If he joins politics, it won't be difficult for us to discuss politics. I will join him provided he enters politics. We have been rivals on the professional front, but we always consult over key issues," said Haasan on 16 September. When asked if he has decided a date to launch his party, he said, "It should be decided without any hurry." Haasan added that the day he plans to announce his party, it may "coincide with a revolution"
Arvind Kejriwal invited Kamal Haasan to join politics
With Tamil Nadu politics undergoing a churning, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met actor Kamal Haasan on 21 September in Chennai for over an hour and invited him to join active politics to fight corruption and communalism.
After the meeting at the actor's Eldams Road residence, Kejriwal, with Haasan by his side, told the media that it was important that when India was battling corruption and communalism, all like-minded people should talk to each other and work in tandem.
"I am really happy to learn that a large number of people of the country are against communalism and corruption but rarely people have the courage to speak their mind. Kamal Haasan is a man of integrity and courage. He has the courage to stick his neck out and talk about communalism and corruption. A lot of people feel strongly against these things but don't come out and express. Rather than from speaking from outside, he should enter politics and fight these forces. We will continue to discuss with each other," the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said.
On his part, Kamal Haasan said it was an honour to learn that Kejriwal wanted to meet him. His residence was always politically active during his father's time though he himself had kept away from it, he said. "You can very well guess what we would have discussed," said the actor. He added that whoever was fighting corruption and communalism were his 'relatives'. "That way this relationship will continue."
Haasan added, "The reason why we got together and the purpose is singular. Kejriwal has a national profile of fighting corruption and communalism. And whoever is fighting these forces are my relatives. I have a little reputation similar to that. It is no wonder that we decided to have a dialogue on the existing situation. It is a learning experience for me and a learning curve for me. I am on an educational tourism and asking anybody who is fighting corruption and communalism to give me advise on how to go about in my endeavour," he added.
Haasan is prepared to die for his nation
Kamal spoke of it at the finale of the Tamil version of reality show Bigg Boss, which marked his television debut. It came to an end on 1 October. On the occasion, the actor made his political entry very clear.
"I'm definitely coming there," Kamal said, pointing towards audiences. "I'm not exploiting this stage. I'm speaking from the bottom of my heart. If you think I should continue acting, then say it aloud. If you think I need to serve the society and bring about a change, say it now. I'm prepared to die in service of my nation," he said.
Rajinikant takes a jibe at Haasan
Taking a dig at Haasan, Rajinikanth on 1 October said it takes more than just name, fame and money to succeed in politics.
"If you have to succeed in politics, it takes more than just fame and money. Something bigger is needed to transform an actor into a politician. I hope Kamal Haasan (knows) what it is," Rajinikanth said, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the memorial for legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan. Kamal Haasan also shared the dais with him.
Speaking on the occasion, Haasan took a jibe at the AIADMK government for the delay in inaugurating Ganesan's memorial. "We need not request or beg anyone to unveil Sivaji's statue. His popularity and influence goes beyond cinema and politics. I would have attended this event no matter who opposed my presence," Haasan said.
Haasan subtly strikes back at Rajini
In what could be seen as a veiled jibe at Rajinikanth for his remarks that "name and fame" alone would not suffice for success in politics, Haasan took to the social media on 2 October to air his views.
In a tweet that was seemingly directed at Rajinikanth, Haasan said, "First they ignore you then they laugh at you then they fight you and then you win- Gandhi ji. His words impart strength we need now."
Haasan meets his fans association members to discuss welfare activities
On 4 October Haasan met members of his fans associations in Chennai to discuss activities to be carried out on his birthday on 7 November.
"We discussed welfare activities that we have planned for his birthday across Tamil Nadu. He has already made it loud and clear that he will take the political plunge. As his welfare association, we are ready to support him in his journey. If he has plans to announce, he will do it. With us, he only discussed about how the welfare activities have to be carried out," Thangavelu, Treasurer of the All India Kamal Haasan Fans Welfare Association, told the media.