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Vijaykanth ready for political innings

By V. Jayanth

CHENNAI, MARCH 15. What `Superstar' Rajnikant failed to do in time for the last Assembly election, another of Tamil film heroes is getting ready to accomplish — follow their leader M.G. Ramachandran and plunge into politics.

In a planned and phased manner, the president of the South Indian Film Artistes Association is all set to launch his own party, perhaps in September. He wants to contest in the Assembly elections, normally due by May 2006. Though the activities and celebrations now taking place in many district centres are meant to coincide with the silver jubilee of his fans association, Vijaykanth has made them a platform to launch his political career. It has been very much on the cards for over a year, but the meticulous planners that he and his wife Premalatha are, the process has been organised into a gradual build-up for the actual launch.

Preparatory to his entering politics, the successful film hero has set up different wings of the fans association, on the model of a political organisation. There are a students' wing, a youth wing, an agricultural forum, another for advocates and the basic fans' clubs that have taken care of social service. All that Vijaykanth needs to do is to convert the whole apparatus into a political vehicle.

Crusade against corruption

According to sources close to the matinee idol, the party will be a "typical, Dravidian, for-the-Tamils" kind of platform. It will be committed to "serving the people." The inspiration of course is MGR. Vijaykanth also plans to make "corruption" the main crusade in his campaign.

Will he go it alone or join an alliance? The sources say, "the options are very much open. We are busy preparing our charter, our goals. We will have to see how it matches or merges with the stated objectives of other parties."

Political and film circles rule out the possibility of Vijaykanth aligning with either the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or the Pattali Makkal Katchi. They feel that he has already made his first moves towards the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its leader Jayalalithaa, during the major crisis the film industry faced. Not just Vijaykanth, almost the entire industry came together to thank Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for her package that "saved Kollywood from the brink of a collapse and disaster," they point out.

Ms. Jayalalithaa has made some overtures to the film world and may look to it for some back-up during the election campaign. Further, the DMK front is not only formidable but also has seven major parties in it. As of now, the AIADMK has no alliance. It remains to be seen whether the Bharatiya Janata Party will patch up with her.

Another new chapter

She may be more inclined to take Vijaykanth's party in her wings — if he wants to ally with her. Whichever way he tilts, Vijaykanth will add a chapter to Tamil Nadu's continuing alliance between cinema and politics.

He promises to make the Assembly election campaign more colourful. But it remains to be seen how successful his debut will be. He has demonstrated his "staying power'' in films and now faces the next major challenge in a political role.

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