Mamata and Nitish’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor to now help Kamal Haasan
According to party sources, IPAC had suggested an image makeover as Kamal Haasan’s popularity among women didn’t translate into female votes in LS polls. This problem was even more pronounced in the hinterland.Updated: Aug 01, 2019, 18:43 IST
Kamal Haasan has signed up noted poll strategist and Janata Dal United Vice-President, Prashant Kishor, with hope to increase his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam’s (MNM) heft in Tamil Nadu politics and to find ways to translate the southern film star’s popularity into votes in the next assembly elections.
The poll guru’s joining has enthused functionaries of the fledgling party, with hope of making a realistic shot at power in the Dravidian land. The understanding that Haasan may have pipped the ruling AIADMK—also believed to have approached Kishor-- to the post may have added to the excitement.
A senior MNM leader said that an “official announcement” was expected shortly to make Kishor’s joining public. This is Kishor’s first foray into Tamil Nadu politics after tasting success in the north.
MNM, launched in February last year, made a mark in Lok Sabha polls this year, with nearly 4% votes polled in Tamil Nadu. Though it could not win any seat, the party performed admirably in the urban pockets, coming third in three constituencies, including the prestigious South Chennai seat and Coimbatore.
Haasan’s party is not very hopeful of the AIADMK government holding the local body polls in October despite its promise and is therefore gearing up for the 2021 Assembly polls, said a party functionary.
“Even in militancy infested Assam, civic polls were held as per schedule. As such, the party is gearing up for the 2021 Assembly poll,” the party functionary said explaining the rationale for hiring Kishor’s IPAC.
According to party sources, IPAC had suggested an image makeover as Kamal Haasan’s popularity among women didn’t translate into female votes in LS polls. This problem was even more pronounced in the hinterland. When HT reached out to MNM on Kishor’s appointment, a party representative, who did not want to be identified, said only Kamal was the authorised spokesperson and was not available for comments.
The MNM has already started an organizational rejig including rationalising the district units and bringing in new faces besides enhancing women representation.
While Haasan’s unrivaled co-star, Rajinikanth is yet to launch his party even two years after announcing his political plunge, Haasan appears to be stealing a march over the more illustrious south-Indian super star. But, Analysts doubt Kamal will emerge as an alternative to the AIADMK or the DMK. There is “no leadership vacuum” in the state as was believed earlier after the demise of former Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, analysts point out.
Kishor has only worked for established parties so far and guiding a one-year-old party, with no visibility apart from tweets and statements of its founder, will be challenging says C Lakshmanan, who is an Associate Professor with Madras Institute of Development Studies.
“Well, he has the film charisma and has traction among the middle classes. But, translating it into votes, considering the stranglehold of the Dravidian majors, is a huge task,” Lakshmanan said.