Kamal Haasan to launch his political party Today in Madurai

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RAMESWARAM:  Veteran actor Kamal Haasan is all set to launch his political party today. Haasan reached Rameswaram early this morning. He will take a roadshow from the house of late President A P J Abdul Kalam at from here. He is scheduled to set out on a yatra (roadshow) and launch the political party in Madurai.

 Haasan was given an inspiring welcome by his supporters. He addressed the fishermen community and said, "Different governments have made different promises and then when people ask why the promises are not met, they bring different problems in front of them."

While announcing his political tour last month, the actor had said he too shared the vision of Mr Kalam who dreamt of a "good Tamil Nadu". By launching his tour from the residence of Mr Kalam, he would be moving forward towards that goal, he had said.

The Yatra will end in Madurai where he will address the rally to announce the party’s name and launch its flag. Sources close to him said they expect Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to attend the rally; Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar too were invited and they could send video messages as they could not reach Madurai.

According to the report of NDTV, as he drives, Kamal Haasan will stop to address public meetings, including in his hometown Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram and in Sivaganga. He said he has picked Madurai for the launch as it is the cultural and political capital of the state. It's not clear yet where he will announce the name of his party; he has already released an anthem, "Nalai Namathe (Tomorrow is ours)".

"I will start my rally tomorrow from Rameswaram and will announce party flag and ideology in Madurai. All are invited," the actor said before he left Chennai for Madurai on Tuesday.

Kamal Haasan also said, "I am entering politics only because the ruling AIADMK is bad. That is why I am not meeting any of them." Ahead of his party's launch, Mr Haasan has met Tamil cinema's other mega star Rajinikanth, who too has announced his political debut, and also leaders of opposition parties like DMK chief M Karunanidhi and DMDK chief Vijayakanth. He said he was calling on "whom I like."

In Madurai and all along the route from Rameswaram to the temple town, there are posters that picturise Mr Haasan in different political roles in which his fans and supporters would like to see him, the report said.

In several posters, Dr Kalam, rationalist leader Periyar and BR Ambedkar make an appearance. Some posters show Mr Haasan as a second Dr Kalam, and say he will fulfil the dream of his hero Dr Kalam, with the legend - "Kamal is a second Kalam."

According to the report of Indian Expres, there is one poster that shows Mr Haasan walking in Mahatma Gandhi's footsteps. Mr Haasan has always spoken about being a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. It was in Madurai that Mahatma Gandhi gave up his regular dress and adopted loin clothes. Several posters are inspired by memorable roles the actor has played in films. "Nammavar" or "our man", released in 1994, comes up often.

One calls him Dravida Haasan. Kamal Haasan on Tuesday re-asserted his plan to take on the state's Dravidian heavyweights, saying he is confident that he will succeed with his Dravidian brand of politics.

He had last month called for unity among southern states under the "Dravidian" identity to give them leverage with the centre. "Dravidian is our identity... When the Dravidian identity is celebrated across south India, it will lead to a united chorus that will reach New Delhi," the actor had said.

On Tuesday, he told reporters, "You will know when I make it a success."

Both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are seen to be eyeing a gap in Tamil Nadu politics perceived to have been created by the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who led the ruling AIADMK, and the illness and advancing age of 96-year-old M Karunanidhi. They have been painstakingly non-committal on whether they could join hands.

After the Madurai launch today, the actor plans a state-wide tour and has said he will adopt a village in every district, with development and fighting corruption as his main agenda, the report said.

What remains unclear, however, is who else the party will include other than Kamal Haasan. Some sources close to these developments say he may announce, at the rally in Madurai, the list of office-bearers for the party’s district committees. Other reports, on the other hand, suggest that he is likely to follow the same route as the late J Jayalalithaa, who was the single power centre in the party she ran until her death.

 “There are intellectuals, activists and anti-corruption groups guiding and advising him, but he is unlikely to project a second leader next to him in the initial stages,” said one source. “It will be a party with a Dravidian flavour, inspired by Aam Aadmi Party and similar anti-corruption movements in Tamil Nadu. The party name may not include words such as ‘Dravida’ or ‘Kazhagam’. Some of the final designs selected for the flag are simple ones in two or three colours.”

Kamal Haasan’s plans to visit a school where Kalam studied has already been criticised by a few right-wing groups, which have blamed him for trying to patronise the late President and alleged that he had only one meeting with Kalam — accidentally, during a flight. “Due to this opposition, he may meet those children at some other place. The local authorities fear that the school education department, too, might object if Kamal Haasan is allowed to visit the school during his roadshow,” said a source.

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