MNM, Cong. jostling for ‘Centrist’ space

Some in MNM are hoping that Kamal Haasan could work with the national party

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan’s attempt to lay claim to the political legacy of former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran drew severe criticism from the AIADMK. But his other comment, that he considers himself to be ‘Gandhi’s B team’, went under the radar.

Some political observers feel Mr. Haasan’s habit of extolling Mahatma Gandhi and invoking the idea of “unity in diversity” makes him an ideal Congressman. A few in the MNM hope that the Congress and Mr. Haasan could work together.

Contending that there were a lot of ideological similarities between the MNM and the Congress, MNM general secretary C.K. Kumaravel claimed that the grand old party had lost its relevance in State elections.

The Congress, according to him, remains relevant only in national politics. “When people vote in the Lok Sabha election, they consider the Congress. But in a State election, they [Congress] are not as relevant. People in Tamil Nadu don’t like the high-command approach visible in national parties,” he claimed. He said there was a possibility of the two parties working together. “Definitely, synergy is possible. If their leadership approaches our leader, he will take a call then,” he added.

Despite agreeing about the ideological similarities between the Congress and the MNM, All India Congress Committee in-charge for Tamil Nadu, Goa and Puducherry Dinesh Gundu Rao said the Congress would not be negatively impacted by the MNM.

‘In DMK alliance’

“Ideologically, I don’t think we have any differences. As far as alliance goes, we have been in an alliance with the DMK and other parties for a long time. The question only arises when Mr. Haasan wants to join our alliance or we want to quit it. We are not looking to leave the alliance [with the DMK],” he said.

Asked if the Congress was wary of Mr. Haasan, he said, “The Congress has its own space in Tamil Nadu. Those who don’t like the communal ideology the BJP represents, those who are against the AIADMK, and those who want a new government… will vote for the DMK-Congress alliance. I don’t see Mr. Haasan making much of an impact on our vote bank.”

“Whether he is individually strong enough to make a difference…that is one thing. If you don’t have that strength, you should think of being with people who are closer to your ideology. We may be sharing the same space but people are going to look at what difference being alone would make. The Congress-DMK alliance is a winning alliance, and people will take it very seriously. Though he may have good intentions, how much impact he can have is a big question,” Mr. Rao added.

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