The entry of superstar -turned-politician Rajinikanth into active politics and the forthcoming Assembly elections have triggered an unexpected emergence of claimants for the legacy of late M G Ramachandran aka MGR ~ the founder of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.
If the state BJP kick-started the claims, Kamal Haasan, another actor-turned-politician, also came forward to claim it. This prompted the original legacy holders, the AIADMK, rubbishing all such claims, though they are trying to position itself as ‘Amma’s government’ hoping to continue leveraging the late J Jayalalithaa’s popularity.
“I grew up on the laps of MGR, Makkal Thilagam (AIADMK fondly called MGR as Makkal Thilagam) is the asset of the people,” said Kamal Haasan during his poll campaign at Sivakasi on Tuesday.
Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) and he have decided to contest the 2021 Assembly election and started their campaign well in advance, though they have not yet decided on alliances.
Haasan observed that MGR was not a property of any particular party, was not called either DMK or AIADMK Thilagam, but as ‘Makkal Thilagam’ which shows he was an asset to the public at large.
Recently, AIADMK ally BJP, too, used the name and picture of MGR in their campaigns, including Vel Yatra, which had sparked a row between the alliance partners.
BJP heavily featured MGR in their two campaign videos. One juxtaposed the former CM with the BJP Tamil Nadu chief L Murugan, while another likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to MGR. The AIADMK was quick to accuse its ally of appropriation, though chief minister Edappady K Palaniswami on Wednesday stated the AIADMK alliance in Tamil Nadu is intact.
Though Rajinikanth started his political ambitions saying he wanted to bring back the MGR rule, critics say, of late, he has shifted to BJP’s Hindutva politics.
MGR started his political carrier through Congress and later became the DMK’s star campaigner. In 1967 DMK captured power under Annaduarai. MGR’s tinsel town image also helped in achieving it. But after Annadurai’s death, MGR parted ways with M Karunanidhi and formed AIADMK in 1972 and in 1997 it captured power from DMK with MGR’s star value help.
MGR has become a cult figure in Tamil Nadu after he had introduced many popular schemes that include noon meal programme in schools.
Though MGR is still being considered as the founding leader of the party, the current AIADMK leadership is riding the party more on the legacy of Amma, who has been introduced and cultivated in politics by MGR.
Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami criticised Haasan saying the star joined politics recently after retiring from acting and knows nothing. This seems to have prompted MNM to contest the Assembly election, forming third front, and his claim on MGR legacy.
Edappady said that Haasan even could not bring out meaningful songs that inspires people like MGR did through his movies.