Chennai, March 13 : Makkal Needhi Maiam’s (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan is expecting to make inroads into the Muslim and Dalit vote banks in Tamil Nadu, which is quite vital for electoral gains in the April 6 Assembly polls.
Haasan, who is a Brahmin himself, has been vocal in extending his support to both the Muslim and Dalit communities.
During the election campaign in the 2019 general elections, the actor-turned-politician, while speaking at a public rally at Aruvarakurichy which has a large Muslim presence, had said that the first “terrorist” of the country was a Hindu in an oblique reference to Nathuram Godse.
Although the statement had not endeared Haasan to the Muslim community, but his actions and support on several issues have made the community feel that he will support them.
Abdul Basith Khan, a Muslim trader and an activist of the Jamat Islami Hind, while speaking to IANS said: “Of course we love and respect Kamal Haasan as he had publicly stated that the seeds of extremism in India were sown by Godse by murdering Mahatma Gandhi.”
There are around 5.85 per cent Muslims in Tamil Nadu, going by the 2011 census.
While there are several Muslim political parties including the Indian Union Muslim League, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslieemen (AIMIM) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in the fray in Tamil Nadu, the MNM chief has a special support base among the Muslims and the star is also banking on it.
While there is no dominance of any Muslim vote bank in any of the constituencies of Tamil Nadu, the 2,000 to 20,000 votes in some constituencies from the Muslim community can be a game changer in more than 100 constituencies of the 234 Assembly seats of the state.
Kamal Haasan is clearly targeting the Muslim vote bank and his public postures in issues like CAA and Ram Janmabhoomi is to attract this base.
The Dalits are a stronger community in Tamil Nadu with around a 20 per cent vote share. While the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by Thol Thirumavalavan MP is the prominent Dalit party of Tamil Nadu, Dalit votes are divided among the DMK, Congress and AIADMK with a small share to the BJP too.
Haasan has invoked the memories of several Tamil Dalit heroes and is trying to capitalize on their popularity to get into the Dalit vote base.
Vaidayanathan K, MNM office bearer at Arkonam, told IANS: “Haasan is certainly a good vote-catcher and issues like this will take him forward and we expect Dalits voting in large numbers for our candidates.”
The MNM is contesting 154 seats in the Assembly polls and the party leaders are targeting both the Muslim and Dalit communities to get their support to ensure smooth wins for the party candidates.