Kamal Haasan to go head on with BJP, Congress in Coimbatore South
- “Coimbatore is a place close to my heart,” Haasan said at a press conference Friday.
Actor-turned politician and chief ministerial candidate for Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), Kamal Haasan will contest from Coimbatore South constituency in Tamil Nadu. He will face lock horns with the BJP and Congress as the Dravidian majors AIADMK and DMK have allotted the Coimbatore South constituency to their respective allies but their candidates are yet to be released.
“Coimbatore is a place close to my heart,” Haasan said at a press conference Friday in the city while releasing the party’s second list of candidates. Coimbatore, which falls in the western region of Tamil Nadu popularly known as the ‘Kongu belt’, is an AIADMK’s citadel. The BJP also enjoys considerable support from the business communities in this region. Quoting a proverb in Tamil that if Kongu region flourishes, everything else would flourish, Haasan said that “It is sad that it has become a corrupt place now. I plan on changing that.”
The MNM was floated in 2018 as an alternative to the Dravidian majors of DMK and AIADMK and built its party with former bureaucrats and activists on an anti-corruption poll plank. The party debuted in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but didn’t win any seat and managed to register a 3.7 per cent vote share. The MNM received much of their support from the urban pockets of Chennai and Coimbatore.
R Mahendran contested the Coimbatore Lok Sabha seat in 2019 and came in third after the winning CPI (M) candidate and runner-up BJP in the constituency. He will contest from Singanallur constituency in Coimbatore district this time. In the 2016 assembly elections Coimbatore South was won by AIADMK’s Amman K Arjunan, Congress’ Mayura Jayakumar was the runner-up and BJP’s national women’s wing president Vanathi Srinivasan came in third. Arjunan's supporters protested against the AIADMK handing over the seat to the BJP.
Former IAS officer Santhosh Babu, who had earlier been named as the Vilivakkam candidate, has now been fielded from Velachery. Actor Sripriya will be fielded from Mylapore where she will face former DGP and sitting AIADMK MLA R Nataraj. Former MLA Pazha Karuppaiah, who was previously with the DMK and AIADMK, will be contesting as an MNM candidate from T Nagar. The mentioned constituencies are all in urban Chennai.
In Haasan’s first list of 71 candidates released on Wednesday, some of the key names included late former President Abdul Kalam’s scientific advisor V Ponraj who will be fielded from Anna Nagar, and environment activist Padmapriya from Maduravoyal. Social worker Sneha Mohandoss from Saidapet will have to take on veteran former mayors AIADMK’s Saidai Duraisamy and DMK’s M Subramanian.
The MNM will contest 154 seats, the party announced late Monday night and allotted 40 seats each to its alliance partners, All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK), led by actor R Sarathkumar, and Indhiya Jananayaga (IJK). The two parties recently walked out of the AIADMK and DMK alliance respectively.