Charged up Kamal Haasan launches Makkal Needhi Maiam party, targets corruption, eyes southern coalition

Amid much anticipation, actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam, unfurling the party flag moments before announcing the party's name which roughly translates to Centre for People's Justice said:"I am not your leader, I am your tool... this gathering is full of leaders." Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was present at the event.

Haasan arrived in Madurai from Rameswaram after visiting former president APJ Abdul Kalam's home where he sought blessings from the late leader's brother.

Clad in a white shirt and black trousers, a smiling Haasan arrived on stage giving his fans, who turned up in large numbers, the thumbs up sign. His supporters waved banners showing a smiling Haasan with popular catchwords from his movies: Nammavarey (our man) and Nalai Namathey (tomorrow is ours).

The party flag was unveiled just before Haasan announced the name of his party, pausing for dramatic effect as the large crowd roared its approval.  Besides Kejriwal, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti and farmers' leader PR Pandian were among those who were on the dais for the launch.

'A party for all of us'

"This is a party made for you, for the people..." Haasan said to thunderous applause. Saying that it is not a single-day event he added, "This is going to become a way of life for us, let us remember that." He asked his followers to realise that they have a big responsibility and they had to be pioneers.

"I am not a leader to give advice. I am a worker to listen to your advice," Haasan said. Explaining the symbol of the party, Haasan said, "It is the map of a new South India. The six hands are the six states in South India. The star in the centre is the people. The people are the stars."

Arvind Kejriwal with Kamal Haasan at the launch of Haasan's party on Wednesday. Twitter@maiamofficial

Arvind Kejriwal with Kamal Haasan at the launch of Haasan's party on Wednesday. Twitter@maiamofficial

Explaining the vision of his party, Haasan said this is a new era for Tamil Nadu politics. "Unemployed, educated youngsters can become a thing of the past. We are adopting eight villages in the state and trying to do welfare measures... this is a combined effort."

Mentioning the Cauvery issue, Haasan said, "There is no point in instigating and blaming the other state. If there is a proper dialogue between the powers, then a solution can be always found."

Recalling the hurdles he faced before launching his party, Haasan told the people in the attendance, "If you had voted for the good parties without accepting money, Tamil Nadu would have been in a better state."

The actor-turned-politician stated he refused to ever indulge in the distribution of freebies and said he'd work towards improving the standard of living of the people instead. He added that this party, if it is ever voted to power, would never have a permanent chief minister.

Stressing that this party is a combined effort, Haasan said, "This is not a party that should stop with me. This should go on for at least the next three generations. This is a party for all of us." He further added that there was a time when the people saw him as a star and now he is like a lamp who wishes to shine in their homes.

Hassan also spoke about his desire to promote the Tamil language. "Be proud and happy to talk in Tamil. Primary education should be take place in the regional language, but that doesn't mean we reject any other languages." Referring to the criticism he faced from leaders of Tamil Nadu, Haasan asked his audience: "Should we keep answering these or just work?"

Haasan lay special emphasis on the fact that no one person could be a leader within his party and vowed that he'd always seek advice from the people on how to run the party and rid the state of corruption.

'Vote for an honest party'

Lauding Haasan for his courage, Kejriwal described him as a real-life hero who is honest, has a vision and lauded him for starting a new party as a political alternative. Lashing out at the DMK and AIADMK, Kejriwal alleged that they were corrupt and offered his congratulations to the people of Tamil Nadu. "Now you can vote for an honest party for Kamal Haasan," Kejriwal added.

"I can see the people of Tamil Nadu are ready to throw out DMK and AIADMK and bring Kamal Haasan to power," he said. In his brief address in English which was translated into Tamil, Kejriwal said, "If you want corruption vote for DMK and AIADMK and if you want schools, hospitals, water, and electricity vote for Kamal Haasan."

Kejriwal said people of Delhi started the trend of voting for honest political parties and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got 67 out of 70 seats. Now, he said the people of Tamil Nadu have the chance of breaking the record and vote for Kamal Haasan. "There is no dearth of money in government, there is only dearth of good intentions," he added.

Kejriwal claimed Delhi was witnessing a "complete transformation, a kind of a revolution in government schools, in hospitals, water and electricity sectors and in every single sector."

Wishing Haasan's initiative well, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan sent in a message, which was telecast, expressing confidence that the actor's party would uphold values of secularism, democracy and pluralistic society. The actor's entry will enrich the state's political arena, he added. Haasan also announced the launch of the party website and Facebook page.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 07:36:23 IST

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