Mumbai: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Friday said the vandalism of Dravidian icon Periyar’s statue in Tamil Nadu was to divert attention from pressing issues like Cauvery water sharing dispute with Karnataka.
At the IndiaToday Conclave 2018, Haasan, who launched new party Makkal Needhi Maiam last month, said his idea of joining politics was to challenge and change the “crass” and “mediocre” politics of Tamil Nadu.
He said he was not anti-BJP but anti everything, including extremism, that brings people hardships.
“I am anti everything that goes wrong for the people. As for extremism, Hindu extremism exists, read the Tamil papers,” he said.
He said the vandalism of Periyar’s statue in Vellore was also an act of extremism and “a diversionary tactic to take people’s attention away from more pressing issues such as sharing Cauvery water”.
Asked why did he start a new party when he could have strengthened an existing, established outfit with an army of cadres, Haasan replied in his characteristic poetic manner.
“What will I do if I am hungry and what is available is rotten food,” he asked, asserting that he had no other option but to launch a new party in Tamil Nadu where mediocrity was standard and “rubbish” acceptable
“I am challenging the status quo. Mediocrity is set as a standard…rubbish becomes acceptable. This has been the state of Tamil politics for nearly half a century.”
Asked about his idea of politics, Haasan said: “I am anti-crass, mediocre politics…I am challenging these. Existing parties have become mediocre.”
But he did not rule out the possibility of aligning with other political parties in future.
“We will have to see who we can align with. At the moment we are looking, not shopping. Certain ideas, plans have to be similar. We will not shake hands with corrupt politicians.”
He said his party will be the “po” of Tamil politics, referring to the term by Maltese philosopher that precedes and signals a provocation, beyond the traditional yes or no.
“Many don’t get the idea of centrism… We do not have to be left or right,” Haasan said.
He said the decision to join politics was not taken overnight but he had been a politician for nearly 30 years now.
“But I thought electoral politics was not for me. Things have changed now,” he said.
He said his political philosophy is based on his learning from Mahatma Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar and Periyar. “Dialogue from Gandhiji and the anger against caste from Ambedkar and Periyar.”
Haasan also touched upon his relationship with actor Sridevi, who died last month at the age of 54.
“It’s like we came from the same house…we were like siblings. She had a bag of tricks that she picked up from various masters and she used it,” he said about her co-star in Tamil and Hindi movies.