Kamal Hassan launches his political party, his party will be “free of games of caste, religion”

Chennai: Promising to usher in a new Tamil Nadu, actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday took the plunge by launching his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Centre) and declared that he desired to be only a tool in the hands of the people and not their leader.

He made it clear that his ideology was neither Left nor Right-leaning but centrist and that he would imbibe good ideas that come from any direction. Hence his party’s buzzword was “centre”. Hassan started his political journey by launching a road show from the house of late President APJ Abdul Kalam in coastal Ramanathapuram, which is also the actor’s home district, and drove down to Madurai waving to hundreds of fans at different points en route.

In the evening, at a vast ground in Y Othakadai in Madurai, he hoisted his party’s flag – six human hands in a white backdrop juxtaposed with a star — in front of a mammoth gathering. Explaining the significance of the flag, he said the six hands denote the five southern states and the Union Territory of Puducherry and the star represents the people. “People are asking me if I have a solution to the Cauvery dispute. I already have a solution. There is nothing that can’t be resolved through proper dialogue. I can get not only water but also blood from Karnataka,” he said, adding, “I am referring to blood donation. It was people of Bengaluru who donated during the tsunami in Tamil Nadu.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with his former Cabinet colleague Somnath Bharti, watched the actor hoist the flag and later announce the name of his party. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greeted the actor via video conferencing. Significantly, Haasan’s party does not have the Tamil words “Katchi” (party) or “Kazhagam” (forum), which has been almost a given for any regional political outfit launched in the Dravidian heartland in the last 50 years. But the colours of the party flag were the ones that have been used by the Dravidian parties for long, particularly AIADMK (red, black and white) and the DMK (red and black). The actor’s tech team also launched the party website and initiated the online membership drive as well.

“We dream. A new party, a new path, a new ideology. Makkal Needhi Maiam. Let Tamil Nadu awake,” Haasan said. “It’s been 70 years since Independence. Yet, our State is now afflicted with a mediocre polity, resulting in a development lacuna. The time has come to make a change. Let us become the change. Tomorrow is ours,” he declared. The actor also appointed office-bearers to the various district units of his party. He said he liked all leaders who had done good work, be it Ambedkar, Gandhi or Nehru.  Among the living leaders, he rated as his guides those like Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Pinarayi Vijayan, Arvind Kejriwal and former US President Barack Obama.

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