Kamal Haasan, the leader of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), addressed students of the SSN College of Engineering at Chennai on Thursday, 8 March. He encouraged them to be “vigilant” and vote even if they do not join his party.

Asking students to keep tab on political developments in the country, the actor-turned-politician told them that politics is in a dire state because “many students of my generation had forgotten to monitor politics”.

His call to the students is different from that of his co-star and aspiring politician Rajinikanth, who had on 5 March asked students to concentrate on studies during their academic life.

Haasan clarified that he was not asking every student to become politicians. According to reports, he repeated a question posed by the former president, the late APJ Abdul Kalam: “How many of you are going to be with political awareness?”

Like sports, arts and science which will provide sustenance, the actor said “it should not be forgotten that politics is a shakti (power) which has the capability to change your life.”

The actor had launched his party last month following his visit to Kalam’s Rameswaram residence. He has been critical of the AIADMK and the BJP even before the formation of his party.

Hassan had earlier stated that his colour was “not saffron”. Following criticism for his alleged “Hindu extremism” remark, Haasan had to clarify that he was not “anti-Hindu”.