Politicians in Tamil Nadu are geared up for the Assembly elections scheduled for May 2021. Among them is Kamal Haasan, who became the first politician to start his campaign. During an election campaign in Villupuram district, Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) announced its manifesto much ahead of the Dravidian parties–the DMK and the AIADMK.

In the manifesto, he promised to provide a stipend of Rs 2,500 to housewife women and free laptops in every household. Political observers say this kind of freebies would not fetch votes for Kamal Haasan’s party. They say most of the votes he received during the general elections in 2019 were from fence-sitters, people who do not decide whom to vote for before reaching the polling booth. The MNM received around 3% of votes in the election. Analysts also wondered that when the state is under huge debt due to Covid and the Central government is not releasing its share of GST, where and how Kamal Haasan would find funds for the distribution of freebies. Freebies or populist measures are part and parcel of Tamil Nadu politics.

Criticising Haasan’s announcement, Savukku Shankar said: “Haasan is cheating the people of Tamil Nadu and taking the voters for a ride. Kamal Haasan is a B-team of BJP.” Similar allegation was made by the CPM a few days ago. According to reports in Tamil Nadu, Haasan had met DMK chief Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin and talked about alliance possibility. Kolahala Srenivaas, a senior journalist, said, “Kamal Haasan held discussions with Udhayanidhi and demanded 40 seats. However, the DMK did not agree to it. Later, the MNM started its campaign from southern Tamil Nadu districts.”

Srenivaas further said that Kamal Haasan’s fan base is not as big as Rajinikanth. Most of the voters are from urban areas like Chennai and Coimbatore. Talking about chances of the actor faring well in election, Tharasu Shyam said it is impossible for Kamal Haasan to win the Assembly election as he needs to develop a pro-poor, pro-people image. Haasan or Rajinikanth are not M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), former chief minister. For MGR, it took 40 years to become a CM. He entered politics in 1937 and became CM in 1977. He cultivated his image through his films, whereas Haasan and Rajini are commercial heroes.

Shyam said that in 2016, the difference between winning candidates and runner-up was only 5,000 votes and less than 17,000 votes in all the 234 seats.