He may have just entered the hurly burly of politics, but actor-politician Kamal Haasan is already talking about the possibility of forming the next government in Tamil Nadu.
The 63-year-old film star today said he will try to form the next government in the southern state where politics is dominated largely by two regional parties - the AIADMK and the DMK -- and emerge as the "third alternative".
Haasan recently launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam (People's Justice Centre) in Tamil Nadu, where the next Assembly elections are due in 2021.
Asked what will be his message to the ruling AIADMK and the main opposition DMK, he shot back, saying, "Mend your ways or we will step in."
He was speaking at a session on 'Point of View - Turmoil Nadu: Who will fix it' at the India Today Conclave here.
When asked specifically if he is trying to say that his party will form the government after the next elections, the actor-politician said, "Yes, we will try."
"It is not my voice alone that is speaking, the strength comes from my people. I am looking for the welfare of the people with their participation, that is a vision," he said.
Haasan asserted he will not compromise on his ideals at any cost and maintained his decision to join politics was not spontaneous but culmination of a well thought-out process.
"Losing an election is not that daunting as losing your ideals. Losing an election is not a big thing. I have lost many elections thinking I have voted for the right party. But they did not make it, the wrong man made it to the top, I felt I have lost. But that will go on," he said.
Haasan considers himself a social service leader and not an organiser and says he has been functioning below the radar for about 37 years.
"Now, we have more than six lakh members working with me. You think this idea of coming into politics is overnight? I don't think so. I have been thinking about it since the turn of the millennium.
"But I was not sure how my great heroes did it without coming into politics. I thought I could pull it off like them but times have changed. We cannot pull it off that way," he said.
Haasan said way back in 2004-2005, he had thought of stepping into politics but held back. Then in 2007-2008 he had almost taken the plunge but then felt he should not get there at all, the actor-politician said.
"I thought my heroes like Mahatma Gandhi ji and Periyar (social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement) were able to do it without getting into electoral politics. The difference is I became political long...long time ago, nearly 30 years ago. I wanted to be part of it. But I felt electoral politics is not for me," he recalled.
Asked what made him float his own outfit instead of joining existing parties like the AIADMK, Haasan said, "What will I do when I am very hungry and I want to eat and what is available to me is rotten food?"
However, it does not mean the Makkal Needhi Maiam will not have any electoral alliance in the future, he said, adding one cannot dismiss it (tie-ups) as that will sound arrogant and despotic.
"We will have to see who we can align with, who has similar passion at least if not ideology."
Prod him further if he has any such people in mind, pat comes the reply --"I am looking, I am not shopping."
The veteran actor said any alliance in the future will be based on certain ideas, plans and programme implementation if not ideology.
For Haasan, fighting corrupt politicians and people with criminal antecedents is of utmost importance and he will never join hands with such elements.
"In English, a pickpocket is called a thief...If a bank manager does it, it is called embezzlement and then it becomes a scam and an oversight. I think all are thieves when you touch other people's money."
Asked if he will become a mascot around which the CPI(M) will try and revive its political fortunes, the actor said, "I don't think so. I will borrow (a line) from Edward De Bono -- we always work in yes or no, either positive or negative. We don't think there is a third alternative. But there is.
"That is why Mr Edward De Bono wrote a book 'Po: Beyond Yes, No'. He invented the word 'Po'. There is a third alternative, We want to be the third alternative."
Talking about his journey in life, Haasan said he always aspired to be a writer but his mentor K Balachander advised him to become an actor.
The actor said he would have happily retired by now but decided to take on more responsibilities as he wanted to produce and direct more films.
"I did my first 100 films in first ten years and I have not crossed the 200-film mark after 40 years in the film industry that is because I took on more responsibilities.
"Now after coming in the social service as a servant, I will have to take this responsibility seriously, for which acting might come in the way. If I were to take an office, I cannot be doing that. I better get prepared for that."
Asked if he will go back to films after his political plunge, the "Vishwaroopam" star said, "It can come back in nostalgia may be not as an option of a second career now. I always say in all my meetings that I had never thought to be an actor or be in office. Thanks to my teachers I became one.
"Now I have decided that this is not how I am going to die, I will die in service of my state, my nation, in that order.
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