Theatrics to politics: Tamil Nadu’s story of a few hits and many misses

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 09, 2018

MG Ramachandran, Founder, AIADMK

Sivaji Ganesan, Founder, Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani

Vijayakanth, Founder, MDMK

Sarath Kumar, Founder, All India SMK

Kamal Haasan will unveil his political plans in early 2018

The State’s political history is replete with actors taking the political plunge and launching parties

When Rajinikanth announced his plans to float a separate party, he joined a list of about half a dozen Tamil actors whose political fortunes met with mixed results in the State.

Of course, the most popular of such parties would be Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the party floated by MG Ramachandran in 1972. MGR, as he was popularly known, caught the imagination of the people and came to be known as ‘Puratchi Thalaivar’, or revolutionary leader, among his fans. He led his party to three electoral triumphs, becoming the State’s chief minister on all the occasions. After MGR’s death, his protégé J Jayalalithaa led the party, which came to power four more times.

Most recently, in November, actor Kamal Haasan announced plans to enter politics and float a party. This is expected in early 2018, when he plans to finalise his strategy. The superstar has not outlined the specifics and said he has long-term goals rather than immediate electoral objectives.

Rajinikanth has stated that his party will field candidates from all 234 constituencies in the State.

In 1996, in the backdrop of an anti-incumbency wave against the AIADMK, there had been a clamour for Rajinikanth to enter politics. But he chose to support the DMK-TMC alliance and made a famous statement opposing the AIADMK: “This land can be saved only by ‘ andavan’,” punning on the word that means both ‘god’ and ‘earlier ruler’, referring to DMK’s previous term in power.

Many failures

Sivaji Ganesan floated the Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani in 1988, but it proved to be a major flop for the thespian, who was a contemporary of MGR.

Actor Vijayakanth, who in his early days in films was referred to as the poor man’s Rajinikanth, floated the DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) in 2005. The party emerged the main opposition in 2011. However, it was routed in the 2016 Assembly elections, when it failed to bag even one seat.

Among others who have floated political parties are actor Sarath Kumar, who founded the All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi in 2005; T Rajendhar, who floated the All India Lakshiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; and K Bhagyaraj, who started the MGR Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam which died in its infancy.

Published on December 31, 2017

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