"Am A Different Man": Kamal Haasan On Campaign Against Rajinikanth

Kamal Haasan's remarks are a response to leaders of Tamil Nadu's ruling and opposition parties pointing to Rajinikanth's origins to question if people would accept him as a leader.

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'Am A Different Man': Kamal Haasan On Campaign Against Rajinikanth

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Kamal Haasan is going to Trichy to address a public meeting on Wednesday

CHENNAI: 

Highlights

  1. On and off, parties have pointed to Rajinikanth's Marathi origins
  2. Kamal Haasan launched his political party in February
  3. Rajinikanth said he'll launch a party and contest in Tamil Nadu polls
Kamal Haasan, the actor-politician who recently launched his political party, on Tuesday brushed aside a whisper campaign about the Marathi origins of superstar Rajinikanth who is also set to float his political party. "I am a different man, I don't think that way.... That is not the point I will discuss when it comes to a debate," Mr Haasan told NDTV, pointing that he was, to the contrary, trying to "unite the whole of south as one voice".

He said the important point in any debate would be "how useful would one man be as against another man to help serve Tamil Nadu better".

"That's what you should debate instead of this parochial differences," Mr Haasan, 63, said as he undertook an unusual 300 km train journey from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli that is at the centre of the delta region dependent on Cauvery water. Mr Haasan is to address a public meeting tomorrow.

Of and on, leaders of the state's ruling and opposition parties have pointed to Rajinikanth's origins to question if people would accept him as a leader. Rajinikanth, 67, was born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad to a Maharashtrian couple living in Bangalore. His father was a police constable.

The two superstars are seen to be aspiring to fill a leadership vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics following former chief minister J Jayalalithaa's death in December 2016 and with DMK leader M Karunanidhi politically inactive because of poor health.

But both have been ambivalent about the possibility of working together in the future but Mr Haasan has made it clear in the past he did have a "secret" meeting with his contemporary and friend Rajinikanth before taking the plunge. The two superstars had then decided to maintain dignity even if they became rivals later.

Mr Hassan told NDTV that what was important that people who come forward to serve the people "have the quality, qualification to do what they want to do".

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"Gandhiji has come to Chennai 49 times in his life. And we accepted him as what he was. We did not think of him as a Gujarati. We thought of him as Father of the Nation. When we can celebrate those kind of relationships, anybody is welcome," said Mr Haasan, who launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam in February, promising an end to corruption, education for all and jobs for the youth.

In December, Rajinikanth had announced he would launch a party and contest all 234 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu in the next assembly elections due in 2021.

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