After BJP and Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan stakes claim to MGR’s legacy

The official Twitter page of Makkal Needhi Maiam also put out a video showing MGR garlanding Kamal and kissing him on his forehead during an award function.

“I grew up on the lap of MGR, Makkal Thilagam is the asset of the people,” said actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan during his poll campaign at Sivakasi on Tuesday. The Makkal Needhi Maiam chief’s attempt at establishing proximity with MG Ramachandran is one amongst many this poll season with several others vying for the legacy of the former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder.

The AIADMK government has been trying to position itself as ‘Amma’s government’ hoping to continue leveraging the late J Jayalalithaa’s popularity. Meanwhile, several others including the BJP have been lining up to stake claim to MGR’s legacy. MGR had been an actor and politician simultaneously, efficiently using his movies to further his political and social messaging. His legacy is that of providing an able administration with shades of populism sans sub-nationalism. 

Another actor embarking on his political journey, Rajinikanth, too has attempted to allude to MGR and cast himself in his mould. During a speech at a non-political event at the MGR university in 2018, Rajini had said “I am not MGR, but can give pro-poor governance like him. When I was in hospital following a nervous breakdown, he used to call up often to inquire about my health.” It was an attempt to establish his closeness with MGR.

Recently, AIADMK’s ally BJP too used the name and picture of MGR in their campaign video which had sparked a row between the alliance partners. Two campaign videos of the BJP heavily featured MGR. One juxtaposed the former CM with the BJP Tamil Nadu Chief L Murugan, while another likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to MGR. The AIADMK was quick to accuse its ally of appropriation. 

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