Kamal Haasan had launched Makkal Needhi Maiam or MNM in February
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan, on his 64th birthday today, said his Makkal Needhi Maiam party is ready to contest by-elections on 20 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, whenever they are held.
"Nobody knows whether the by-elections will be held. But we are ready to contest whenever they take place," Kamal Haasan told reporters in Chennai.
"I am not the one who believes in making promises. I am seeking suggestions from people," he added.
Last month, the Madras High Court upheld the disqualification of 18 AIADMK legislators, loyal to AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, and cleared the decks for by-elections. Apart from these 18, the Tiruvarur seat represented by DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and Tiruparankundram seat, represented by AIADMK's AK Bose, have been vacant since their deaths earlier this year.
The by-elections – the schedule for which is yet to be announced by the Election Commission – are seen as an test for the E Palaniswami-led AIADMK government. The outcome will have a bearing on its survival.
After the disqualification of the 18 lawmakers, the ruling AIADMK has 116 members (including Speaker P Dhanapal) in the 234-member House. The majority mark is 118. The DMK and its allies together have 97 lawmakers (DMK 88, Congress 8 and IUML 1) in the assembly.
Kamal Haasan had launched Makkal Needhi Maiam or MNM — which translates to "People's Justice Centre" — in February. The actor-politician has been sharply critical of the AIADMK government for some time, has had frequent run-ins with state ministers on the issue of corruption and came out strongly against the government for its handling of the anti-Sterlite protests.
Kamal Haasan's venture into politics came after another Tamil cinema icon, Rajinikanth, spoke of plans to form his own party. Both have been looking to fill the leadership vacuum in the state after the death of AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalithaa in December 2016 and M Karunanidhi in August.
With inputs from PTI