Chennai: Elections are a great leveller. At least that is what the actions of those who ruled the silver screen and are testing electoral waters for the first time make one believe.
From the comforts of caravans and luxury homes, actors like Kamal Haasan and Khushboo are now out on the streets trying their best to capture the attention of the voters in Tamil Nadu, which goes to the polls on April 6 to elect a new Government.
Haasan, who made a belated entry into politics launching the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), after AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa’s death and when then DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi was confined to his bed, has entered the fray from Coimbatore South constituency. Though he had campaigned for his party candidates in the last Lok Sabha polls two years ago, this time he is actually on the ground seeking votes for himself.
Having to face the BJP’s All India Mahila Morcha president Vanathi Srinivasan and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee working president Mayura Jayakumar, Haasan is trying his best to mingle with the people. Two days ago, walkers at the upmarket Race Course found a familiar face walking with them in the morning and it was the universal star in their midst. From then on he has been seen at roadside tea shops engaging in casual chats or hailing an auto rickshaw from the road and heading to the posh Vivanta by Taj hotel.
About 20 kilometers away, yesteryear screen villain Mansur Ali Khan, who has entered the fray as an Independent candidate in Thondamuthur, the constituency of influential Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani, is up to many tricks. Khan was on Saturday spotted sitting like a nomad near strewn garbage outside a temple and petting a street dog, while seeking to engage with the voters. A man who has switched many parties including the AIADMK, PMK and Naam Tamilar Katchi, he is seen as a spoiler, who could poll a few thousand votes and nothing beyond.
In capital Chennai, Khushboo, another serial party hopper – DMK to Congress to BJP in 10 year – is busy giving free hugs to slum kids, women folk and touching the feet of the random elderly voter in Thousand Lights constituency. For her too this is her first election as a candidate.
Will the screen magic work? “Tamil Nadu may be the land which had five Chief Ministers from the cine world – C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran, V N Janaki Ramachandran (for about a month) and Jayalalithaa, but not every actor has been successful in politics. A doyen like Sivaji Ganesan was defeated. So we have to wait and see on May 2 what happens to these stars,” said political analyst Mani.