Tamil Nadu government cancels Nadigar Sangam 2019 elections, scheduled for 23 June, over building row

The Tamil Nadu government had to step in and cancel the Nadigar Sangam elections which had escalated into a smear campaign over a row for the Sangam's new building to be constructed in Chennai.

Sreedhar Pillai June 20, 2019 11:39:40 IST
Tamil Nadu government cancels Nadigar Sangam 2019 elections, scheduled for 23 June, over building row
  • The eagerly awaited Nadigar Sangam or South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA) elections, which were to be held on 23 June, have been cancelled.

  • The Sangam is the most powerful actors’ body of Kollywood or Tamil cinema.

  • The bone of contention was over the completion of a Sangam building at a prime location in Chennai.

The eagerly awaited Nadigar Sangam or South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA) elections, which were to be held on 23 June, have been cancelled. An order has been passed by the Registrar of Societies about this suspension due to lack of clarity over the electoral rolls.

The Registrar was acting on a petition filed by 62 members claiming serious discrepancies in the voter list and alleging voter suppression by the current office bearers.

Tamil Nadu government cancels Nadigar Sangam 2019 elections scheduled for 23 June over building row

Photo credit: screenshot from YouTube video.

The Sangam is the most powerful actors’ body of Kollywood or Tamil cinema. It was founded by giants K Subrahmanyam, MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan among others. The Sangam’s politically ambitious office bearers first become the Chief and later parachute into Tamil Nadu politics, like Vijaykanth and Sarathkumar. The Chief has tremendous power in the industry as actors have innumerable call-sheet and payment problems with producers and directors, which the Sangam manages.

The controversial and popular action hero Vishal Krishna was the General Secretary, M Nasser the President and Si Karthi the Treasurer of this powerful organisation. They came to power under the front Pandavar Ani in 2015, winning an election among 3,000 odd members of the Sangam, with a landslide victory over Sarathkumar and his group, who had ruled the industry for many years.

Their three-year term coming to an end in 2018 was followed by the court appointment of the retired judge Padmanaban as the electoral officer for the Sangam’s 2019 elections. The 2019 elections were supposed to be between Krishna’s Pandavar Ani and a quickly put up opposition under veteran writer, director and actor K Bhagyaraj, who led Sankaradas Ani. The key contest was between Krishna and Ishri Ganesh who were once close associates for the General Secretary post. Both groups have the tacit support of one of the two Dravidian parties in the state.

The bone of contention was over the completion of a Sangam building at a prime location in Chennai. Krishna and his Pandavar Ani came to power saying they will look into the irregularities during Sharatkumar’s term and promised to complete the building. Now, four years later, the building remains incomplete. The Sangam’s election campaign soon turned into a personal smear campaign between the two sides. There was a strong anti-incumbency wave against Krishna, but the opposition team was not strong enough to sail through.

Finally, after prodding by the state government, the Registrar decided to cancel the elections. Krishna rushed to meet the state governor to no avail. Krishna’s team member Poochi Murugan commented, “The Registrar should have announced this decision before the notification of the election was done. We will be going to the court now.”

For now, the Sangam will be run by a government official from the cooperative societies until fresh elections are announced. This will leave the Sangam’s building construction, which needs another Rs 15 to 20 crores, in a limbo. Between court cases and finalising the electoral list, any movement is going to take time. Until then, Kollywood’s most powerful actors’ association will be run by a state government official.

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