Vijay’s Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam: change agent or to turn the water murky?

February 02, 2024 10:57 pm | Updated February 05, 2024 02:23 pm IST - CHENNAI

Photo: X/@tvkvijayoffl

Photo: X/@tvkvijayoffl

Actor Vijay’s much-expected announcement of his political entry has prompted debates on where he would land and whose space he is going to take over in Tamil political landscape that is crowded with a wide variety of ideologically diverse players: the Naam Tamilar Katchi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Makkal Needhi Maiam, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and, of course, the two major Dravidian parties.

Like all actors with a mass following, Mr. Vijay’s choices of characters in his films have been carefully crafted. His huge fan following is the result of the actor playing characters from poorer sections of society. The case in point is the song in Pokkiri, in which he says ‘Theepandham eduthu, theendamai koluthu [burn untouchability with a fire torch]’. This is why some political observers think his young fans, from poorer sections, will support him politically in large numbers.

Members of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam celebrate the political entry announcement of actor Vijay in North Chennai on February 2, 2024

Members of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam celebrate the political entry announcement of actor Vijay in North Chennai on February 2, 2024 | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

J. Balasubramaniam, media researcher based in Madurai, says, “He has often played characters hailing from either ‘Kuppam’ or ‘Cheri’ (fisherfolks or Dalit communities), which has taken him closer to them. Therefore, youngsters from these communities will definitely find his party as an alternative. He has always portrayed himself as one of the lower classes. Take Bigil, for instance, he will be a football player and the dad (also played by Vijay) will be a strong man in north Madras.”

However, he adds that political parties such as the Naam Tamilar Katchi and some Dalit organisations have worked hard among these communities. “Therefore, those who are ideologically oriented towards the Naam Tamilar Katchi or Dalit outfits may not move,” he believes.

Also read | Udhayanidhi Stalin, Annamalai welcome Vijay’s political foray

Ramu Manivannan, visiting professor, University of Denver, and former Head, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, is critical of Mr. Vijay’s decision to enter electoral politics. He says this will only serve to “turn the water murky”. “His political entry is going to confuse the younger voters. What is his politics? A party should be launched after demonstrating values and commitment. Let’s wait and see who are the people with him,” he says. “Why has he announced his party before the Lok Sabha election if he has decided not to contest in it?”

He also points to the possibility of the ruling party at the Centre using the vulnerability of Mr. Vijay, who has already been a target of income tax searches. “He is playing the long hand of the BJP to confuse the younger voters,” he says. “He is already in the IT net. He is vulnerable; actors are the least transparent. How can they talk about caste and communal politics?”

While BJP State president K. Annamalai and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Alagiri and a few others have welcomed Mr. Vijay’s announcement, Naam Tamilar Katchi chief co-ordinator Seeman has said it is easier to start a party but difficult to continue the political journey.

“We have to see what is his political ideology. Anyone can win if he continues to exhibit the same interest and commitment until the end as he did at the beginning. He has to stand strong till the end. In today’s political scenario, it will be historical for an actor to win on the votes cast by his fans alone. He has to attract common voters as well. MGR had that support. He has to win the hearts of the people. It will happen only over many years,” he said.

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