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Kamal Haasan begins political journey at APJ Kalam’s house amid pomp, to meet Kejriwal at Madurai

High on symbolism, Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan began his political by invoking the late APJ Abdul Kalam for his inspiring simplicity.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2018 18:47 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Kamal Haasan‬,‪Tamil Nadu‬‬,Kamal Haasan political party
Veteran actor Kamal Hassan arrives to pay tribute to former president APJ Abdul Kalam at his memorial at Peikarumbu in Rameswaram, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Tamil actor Kamal Haasan launched himself into politics on Wednesday with a visit to APJ Abdul Kalam’s residence at Rameswaram to pay homage to the ‘people’s President’.

All the trappings of the film world – music, dance, emotions, drama and dialogues – were on display as Kamal Haasan began his political journey with a breakfast meeting with the family of the late Kalam at his humble home.

The actor said that he was greatly inspired by the simplicity and humble lifestyle of Abdul Kalam. “Greatness can come from simple beginnings,” Kamal Haasan said. He later tweeted: “Glad to start my journey from a great man’s simple abode.”

The former president’s family welcomed the superstar and wished him well in his quest to develop Tamil Nadu to realise the dreams of Kalam.

“Kalam spoke of changing Tamil Nadu and wanted development of the state. We also want him to do that and wish him well. Like others, he too is welcome to our home,” said Saleem, a grandson of Kalam.

The actor also paid tribute to the former President at his memorial at Peikarumbu in Rameswaram.

Read: Kamal Haasan to launch a party: Here are 6 twists and turns in the actor’s political journey

At many places, traditional folk dancers and musicians added to the ambience of festivities normally associated with the release of a film. Only the occasion was different – launch of political journey of one of the state’s biggest stars.

Several flags in white with the Tamil Nadu map in black with the tag line “Naalai Namadhe” (Tomorrow is Ours) dotted Rameswaram and also the route Kamal Haasan’s motorcade took.

But Kamal Haasan’s posters with Abdul Kalam’s picture in them evoked a protest from the Hindu Munnani group which lodged a formal complaint with the Madurai collector saying no political leader should ‘misuse’ the name of the former President.

The superstar’s desire to visit and spend time with students of the school where Kalam studied could not be fulfilled as the school authorities refused permission for the same, forcing him to drop the idea. He did halt for a minute at the main gate of the school before resuming his journey and stopped at Ganesh Mahal where he spent a few minutes with waiting fisherfolk.

Visibly angry for the brief interaction, the fishermen gate crashed a media conference where Kamal Haasan tactfully allowed them to take centre stage and promised to get back to them later as he was pressed for time.

Along the way to Madurai, Kamal Haasan addressed fans and supporters who lined up on either side of the road at a few places for a glimpse of the “nammavvar” (our man) as he is referred to.

People showered flowers at the actor’s motorcade and shouted slogans – varunkala mudalai amaichar (future chief minister) – as he headed for the airport at Madurai, nearly 150 km away to receive Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal will share the stage when Kamal Haasan formally launches his political party, unfurl its flag and make a speech spelling out his political ideology and plan.

This function is expected to take place late in the evening, coinciding with prime time television around 9 pm. Another leader, CPM leader and Kerala chief minister Pinarai Vijayan is expected to participate in the meeting via a video message that will be screened during the rally.

An anti-BJP axis may be forming in Tamil Nadu politics as the presence of Kejriwal indicates. Kamal Haasan also said he had a conversation with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in the morning. Naidu who heads the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is sore at his alliance partner BJP for what he calls the ‘step motherly treatment’ given to his state in the Union budget and has made veiled threats of pulling out of the NDA.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 18:47 IST