Actor-politician Kamal Haasan, on his 64th birthday today, said his Makkal Needhi Maiam party is ready to contest by-elections to 20 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, whenever they are held.
“Nobody knows whether the by-elections will be held. But we are ready to contest whenever they take place,” Kamal Haasan told reporters in Chennai.
“I am not the one who believes in making promises. I am seeking suggestions from people,” he added.
The Madras High Court had last month upheld the disqualification of 18 AIADMK legislators, loyal to AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, and cleared the decks for by-elections. Apart from these 18, the Tiruvarur seat represented by DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and Tiruparankundram by AIADMK’s AK Bose have been vacant since their deaths earlier this year.
The by-elections – the schedule for which is yet to be announced by the Election Commission – are perceived to be an acid test for the E Palaniswami-led AIADMK government since the outcome will have a bearing on its survival.
The DMK and its allies together have 97 MLAs (DMK 88 Congress 8 and IUML 1) in the assembly as against the ruling AIADMK’s 116 (including Speaker P Dhanapal) in the 234-member House.
Kamal Haasan had launched Makkal Needhi Maiam or MNM in February, a political party based in Tamil Nadu that translates to “People’s Justice Centre”. The actor-politician has been sharply critical of the AIADMK government for some time, has had frequent run-ins with state ministers on the issue of corruption and came out strongly against the government for its handling of the anti-Sterlite protests.
Kamal Haasan’s venture into politics came after another Tamil cinema icon, Rajinikanth, also floated the idea of forming his own party. Both have been looking to fill the leadership vacuum in the state after the death of AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalithaa in December 2016 and M Karunanidhi in August.
With inputs from PTI