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Utility of star cast doubtful

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ENDURING CHARISMA: A stage artiste imitating the late Chief Minister MGR ahead of Jayalalithaa’s campaign visit to Karur. —
ENDURING CHARISMA: A stage artiste imitating the late Chief Minister MGR ahead of Jayalalithaa’s campaign visit to Karur. —

L. Renganathan

KARUR: Election campaigns are marked by hectic action by the star speakers who draw huge crowds with their charisma and personality. In Tamil Nadu, that has a sufficiently long history of tinsel world based politics, it is but quite common for the parties to engage cine artistes and stars for soliciting votes.

But of late, there have been remarkably lukewarm responses from the public to the campaigning by cine actors, save for some popular personalities. An interaction with a cross section of Karur townsmen and politicians revealed that doubts still persist over the utility value of the stars in election campaign.

Both the AIADMK and the DMK had brought cine stars for boosting their prospects in Karur Lok Sabha constituency. Over the past fortnight, actors such as Ramarajan, Murali, Vindhya and Anandaraj campaigned for AIADMK candidate M. Thambi Durai. Likewise, K. Bhagyaraj, Vagai Chandrasekar, Kumari Muthu and Thyagu campaigned for the DMK’s sitting MP K.C. Palanisamy.

That apart, the DMK camp also sought and got lyrical support from poet Vairamuthu, who penned a few songs extolling the “achievements” of Mr. Palanisamy and the DMK government over the past three years.

While the stars tried to dazzle mostly in the rural areas, knowing full well their base, the crowds that flocked to their campaign seemed to have come with a clear mind – there is little difference between rural and urban electorate.

“I’ve come to see the actor in flesh and blood. We have seen the actor on the screen for so long,” observes C. Ignacimuthu, a farm labourer of Kaniyalampatti who had pedalled about 12 km to Uppidamangalam, to see the actor. Is it for the party he has come all the way? “No it’s just for the actor. When are we going to see them again? So I came but I will not tell you for whom I would vote,” he retorts.

Ignacimuthu reflects the mindset of many of his ilk who are pretty sure on their preference but still have the time to come and see the cine stars campaign just for the heck of it. Cine stars pull crowds but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether that translates into votes.

And the stars too sometimes fail to twinkle. Many invariably arrive late but are able to gather the crowds rather quickly. As the awestruck and eager people surround them, the stars either break out into stereotyped address or speak with some authority, quoting statistics and ground realities.

Mr. Bhagyaraj reeled out “achievements” of the DMK government and urged the people to help continue the “good governance” in the State and Centre, while Ramarajan listed the “sufferings” of the people under the DMK “misrule”.

Vindhya spoke of her concern for natural wealth such as river sand and wanted the people to vote for AIADMK to put an end to the sand mining.

Murali spoke of Mr. Thambi Durai’s virtues and how he would make a wonderful MP, bringing in more projects and development to Karur.

Though the politicians know that the utility value of the cine stars are limited to certain pockets and sections and that they do not hold any sway over the masses, there are compulsions to press them into campaigning.

“Whatever little the stars can do let them bring in that and we will be happy to receive their support. True all crowds who throng star meetings will not translate into votes but then that holds true for charismatic leaders as well,” they point out.

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