How actor Vijay scored a blockbuster ballot debut with out even contesting elections

New Delhi: Tamil celebrity Vijay, 47, fondly known as Thalapathy (younger commander) by his legions of followers, made his foray into politics somewhat efficiently with out campaigning or contesting elections. 

Within the Tamil Nadu rural native physique elections final week, his fan membership — All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam — recorded a 68 per cent strike fee, successful 115 of the 169 seats it contested. 

Whereas the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) swept the polls, through which over 27,000 seats have been up for grabs, Vijay’s fan membership, marking its political debut, did higher than actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, actor Vijaykant’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) — all established events within the state. 

This was the primary time the actor gave consent to office-bearers of his fan membership to contest elections in his title.  

In early September, Vijay had moved courtroom towards 11 individuals, together with his mother and father and members of his fan membership, for utilizing his title and pictures throughout elections. In November final 12 months, the actor even issued a press release when his father registered the ‘All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam’ with the Election Fee of India as a political celebration. “I inform my followers and the general public that there isn’t any relation in any respect between the political celebration that my father has began and me, immediately or not directly,” he had stated then. 

In lower than a 12 months, the actor agreed to elections being contested in his title beneath the identical celebration title and even set two foremost standards for candidate choice — “educated youth” and “equal illustration to girls”.

Bussy Anand, basic secretary of the Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, informed ThePrint that the outcomes weren’t sudden because the celebration had earned a number of goodwill in Thalapathy’s title, particularly through the Covid lockdown. 

Detailing the record of labor executed, Anand stated, that through the pandemic, in 10 districts, together with Salem, Thanjavur, Chennai, Tiruvallur, and Trichy, the fan membership gave free breakfast and rations to individuals, offered them with sanitisers and medicines, and even organized oxygen for these in want. 

“All of this was executed in Thalapathy’s title. The entire cadres labored very effectively,” he stated. “The Vijay Makkal Iyakkam has been round for the previous 27 years and for near 20-22 years we’ve got been giving free saris, dhotis and so forth in Vijay’s title.” 

Anand stated all members of the fan membership went door to door and campaigned in Thalapathy’s title and used his photograph in addition to a flag along with his title and picture. 

The celebration’s Kancheepuram unit head, E.C.R. Saravanan, stated the actor’s reputation helped within the polls. “Vijay’s reputation and him being a person who works and fights for the rights of the downtrodden is what labored in our favour,” he stated.

Vijay, a movie icon in Tamil cinema, is an actor, playback singer and philanthropist who began out as a baby actor. 

Extraordinarily well-liked among the many youth, in 2014, he was the most Googled Tamil actor, overtaking Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Final 12 months, a selfie he reposted had the file of being probably the most retweeted photograph of the 12 months in India.

He has performed the lead in over 60 films, reaching a lot success commercially in India and abroad.

His fan membership of over 10 lakh members campaigned in his title. Whereas he hasn’t formally contested elections, the actor had prolonged help for victims of alleged police excesses within the anti-Sterlite agitation and protests towards the NEET. 

Though Anand was very guarded about Vijay himself becoming a member of politics and contesting elections, saying it’s one thing for the actor to determine, the native items of the celebrity’s fan membership say they are going to persuade him to affix politics, including that it’s the pure course of occasions. 

Additionally learn: DMK reasserting itself or nonetheless ‘anti-Hindu’? Tamil Nadu temple reforms spark political query

Mainstream events, analysts not too impressed

Many, nonetheless, usually are not too impressed with the fan membership’s success. Mainstream political events consider the All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam just isn’t one to be taken too critically and solely one thing smaller events ought to be careful for. 

The ruling DMK stated it doesn’t connect an excessive amount of significance to the outcomes of Vijay’s fan membership. 

Talking to ThePrint, DMK spokesperson A. Saravanan stated the story was not concerning the votes gained by Vijay’s fan membership however how the DMK had swept the native physique polls and “set a brand new benchmark beneath the management of (Chief Minister) M.Okay. Stalin”.

“We don’t take their outcomes and votes obtained that critically. That is one thing for smaller events reminiscent of Kamal Haasan’s or the PMK or AMMK to take discover of. The DMK doesn’t connect an excessive amount of significance to the outcomes of the All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam,” Sarvanan stated.

Analysts say that the fan membership has an extended approach to go, and that Vijay is making an attempt to have his cake and eat it too. 

Ramu Manivannan, Professor and Head of Division of Politics & Public Administration on the College of Madras, stated the fan membership’s outcomes weren’t concerning the celebration however extra concerning the character. 

“Saying it’s a fan membership just isn’t enough political floor. If you happen to say it’s your celebration, then individuals can brazenly problem you. All of this can be a double customary,” Manivannan stated. “Vijay has proven curiosity for some time however politics calls for sacrifices. At present, he desires to be in politics with out making sacrifices. He desires to have his cake and eat it too.”  

He stated the fan membership contesting elections in Vijay’s title was a method of accelerating his market worth and catching the general public house and creativeness. “At present, he’s solely complicated the voters,” he stated. 

Muthukumar, head of division of Political Science at Presidency Faculty in Chennai, stated the fan membership did effectively primarily because of children, including that they didn’t have a correct grassroots construction like established events such because the DMK and the AIADMK within the state.

“Children like both Vijay or Ajith however Ajith is nowhere in politics at the moment.” Talking about Vijay’s different counterparts who entered the political fray, reminiscent of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, Muthukumar stated, in each instances, a grassroots presence was lacking.

Drawing a comparability with MGR and Jayalalithaa, he stated the 2 former CMs of Tamil Nadu had an immensely sturdy grassroots presence, which was a defining issue of their electoral successes.

“MGR had that charisma and, via his movies, songs and the form of films he selected shaped a reference to the general public politically. Vijay is making an attempt to do the identical however one has to attend and see if he will probably be profitable; if he decides to formally be a part of politics,” Muthukumar stated. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

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