New Delhi: Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam, which he launched in 2018, could not make any impact in the Tamil Nadu polls, failing to win a single seat. Despite maintaining a lead from his constituency, Coimbatore South, in the beginning, the actor-turned politician ended up losing to BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan by 1,728 votes.
Presented as an alternative to the “corrupt and dynastic Dravidian parties”, the MNM contested the polls in an alliance with actor Sarath Kumar’s All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi and Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi. It fielded candidates in 154 of the total 232 seats.
Kamal Haasan’s poor performance also heralds a new chapter in Tamil Nadu, one that signals the diminishing political capital of cinema stars.
The Tamil Nadu elections were held on 6 April in a single phase.
In an interview to ThePrint in March, Haasan had said he intended on laying “democratic siege” and ensuring “economic revival” in Coimbatore.
“Coimbatore South has seen many instances of engineered communal disharmony. This needs to be countered with a voice like mine,” he added.
Haasan, a self-declared atheist, had formed the Makkal Needhi Maiam to establish “politics for the people”, “progress for everyone”, and look at issues “neither from a Left nor Right perspective”.
Though the party was popular among the younger voters, it did not translate into votes. Rural areas have not been the MNM’s stronghold, as even in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the party just managed a 3 per cent vote share in the interior areas of Tamil Nadu.
The dismal performance in the polls has led to a halt on Haasan’s plans. He had been working towards this moment for the last three years, during which he aligned himself with groups that protested against the expansion of the Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin, said Jallikattu had nothing to do with Tamil pride and called for regulation, and even hosted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the much talked-about lunch at his home.
In the run-up to the polls, he had said the aim of his party was to focus less on the poverty line and more on the “prosperity line”.
“Each government, be it the Centre or state, looks at the poverty line. However I want to focus on the prosperity line,” he told ThePrint. “I want to bring Tamil Nadu above that line of prosperity so that even in times of calamity such as Covid-like situations, demonetisation, people will not slip below this prosperity line and will still be able to manage.”
For him, MNM stood apart from other parties as for them politics was a livelihood where they fielded criminals as MLAs and gave bags of money for cash.
“For us, it is not a profession, it is a commitment. Other parties hide their crimes under the garb of social justice. We have nothing to hide and everything to show”, he said.