Kamal Haasan, veteran Tamil movie actor and founder of the fledgeling Makkal Needhi Maiam, will be contesting the upcoming state Assembly polls from the Coimbatore South constituency. He made the announcement today while releasing his party's second list of candidates. Grapevine had it earlier that he may choose to fight from Alandur in Chennai, a seat that former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran held for nine years.
The past two Assembly polls saw the Coimbatore South seat being won by the AIADMK, with the Amman K Arjunan being the current incumbent. Under a new seat-sharing deal, however, the ruling party passed the seat to its ally, the BJP, giving much heartburn to AIADMK cadres. In the 2019 general election, MNM gathered 11 per cent votes in the Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency.
Remembering his late father, Mr Haasan today expressed confidence that the people of the constituency would enable him to voice his views in the Assembly. "My father's dream was I should become an IAS officer and then enter politics. Though I could not realise his dream, my party comprises many (former) IAS officers. That is a proud moment for us," he told reporters.
Among other names declared in MNM's second list are Dr Subha Charles from Kanniyakumari, Dr R Mahendran (Singanallur), Dr Santosh Babu (Velacherry), and Pazha Karupiah (T Nagar). Alandur has been allotted to Sharad Babu. On Wednesday, MNM had released the first list of 70 candidates for the polls. Former bureaucrat Santosh Babu was earlier given the Villivakkam constituency.
The MNM has struck an alliance with actor Sarathkumar's All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi and Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi. Both allies will contest in 40 seats each, while it looks out in 154 seats. It secured around 4 per cent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, with its share going as high as 10 per cent in the urban pockets.
The party has adopted a unique online ticket distribution system for people to apply as candidates, followed by interviews of the shortlisted ones to be finally fielded in the election.
The thespian launched the MNM in 2018, but the party has been one of the earliest to hit the campaign trail despite being a newbie. It is raising corruption, jobs, developing villages, and e-governance as key planks. It has promised salaries to homemakers and free computers with internet to all homes.