The newly minted party has landed at the bottom of the heap except in a few seats
Actor turned politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) made its debut in both the Lok Sabha elections and Assembly bypolls against the two big Dravidian parties in the state.
“It is a convincing result for us in our first election,” he said at a press interaction in his Chennai office.
Although the star’s 14-month-old party failed to secure any seats in the Lok Sabha elections as well as the Assembly bypolls, he claimed to have arrived third in the electoral fray.
“In today’s political situation, you can ask anyone and they will tell you that we are an alternative, a third front,” said Haasan. “If we are not yet the third front then we will strive to get there.”
But it appears that Haasan is a little over-ambitious since voters have not really given him that much of a thumbs up.
“Makkal Needhi Maiam is not the emerging third party in Tamil Nadu. The only third party in Tamil Nadu will be the Congress as it rides on the back of the DMK,” senior journalist RK Radhakrishnan told The Lede.
Let us look at the numbers.
The party has done well in cities such as Chennai and Coimbatore.
In 13 seats, including the three Chennai constituencies and Coimbatore, MNM managed to make its way to third place behind the DMK and AIADMK alliance candidates.
In Chennai South constituency, MNM’s Rangarajan managed to garner 12.03% while in Coimbatore, party vice president R Mahendran won 11.6% of the votes.
In both these seats, Seeman’s Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK) and TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) got less than 7% vote share.
However, this trend does not extend to the whole state.
The AMMK has effortlessly crossed the 10% mark in four Lok Sabha constituencies - Ramanathapuram, Salem, Virudhunagar and Theni.
When it comes to the Assembly bypolls, MNM has fallen even further behind.
While the AMMK has done fairly well in seven MLA constituencies including Thanjavur and Manamadurai, MNM has crossed the 10% mark only in Perambur.
In the final count, the battle at the bottom has been between Naam Tamilar Katchi, AMMK and MNM.
Overall, Kamal Haasan’s MNM has ranked right at the bottom of the heap – a far cry from being an alternative in Tamil Nadu politics.
Senior journalist Aazhi Senthilnathan told The Lede - “Kamal Hassan has drawn the votes from recently politicised urban elite and middle class voters in cities who so far remained apolitical. His promise as a third front against corruption must have played its part in the cities while it might not be the case everywhere else. With this background it is questionable as to how he would be able to make inroads in villages.”
“If he is to look to a future, he must focus only on competing with the DMK. He must try to cash in on the vote share of AIADMK since DMK seems already prepared for the next election after having forged a strong alliance now. Also to be noted is the future of AMMK, as a merger is possible with the AIADMK after the elections,” he said.
Whether Kamal Haasan will emerge stronger in 2021 or fade away like the DMDK will depend upon the work his party does in the rural areas of the state.
But for now, he is a far cry from being an alternative.