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With Tamil Nadu rural elections, actor Vijay makes a silent entry into politics

The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu may have swept the rural elections held in nine reorganised districts, but a closer look at the results shows that actor Vijay – considered second only to megastar Rajinikanth in popularity charts – has taken a silent plunge into politics, through his fan club.

According to the results, Vijay’s fan club won 115 of the 169 seats it contested, recording a 68% strike rate.

This was the first time Vijay had given consent to office-bearers of his fan club – All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam – to contest the elections.

Bussy Anand, general secretary of All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, said of the 115 seats they won, victory in 13 seats, including four each in Kallakurichi and Kancheepuram, was unopposed.

“Of the 115 winners, at least 45 are women. Otherwise, the candidates who contested under the banner of actor Vijay were from a cross section of our society,” said Anand, a former Congress MLA from Puducherry. He said those who won included farmers, students, traders, lab technicians and even school teachers.

The number of seats Vijay fans contested or won in the village panchayat wards may appear insignificant as compared to the total 27,003 local body positions in the state but the taste of victory on debut may lead to a bigger role for the actor in state politics.

Anand, who is considered a messenger between Vijay and his fans holding organisational positions, said contesting the elections was not a planned move at all.

“Suddenly, ahead of the polls, there were requests from many districts, seeking permission to contest,” he said. “All of them were people who had been leading activities in their own localities on behalf of our movement.”

“When we discussed it with Thalapathy [as Vijay is fondly called by his fans], he agreed,” said Anand. For candidate selection, Anand said, Vijay conveyed only two preferences – “educated youth” and “equal representation to women”.

While campaigning was conducted using the group’s flag and Vijay’s picture, Anand was among those who travelled across the districts to meet as many candidates as possible.

Although the Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam extended support to the AIADMK in the 2011 assembly polls, following which it steered clear of electoral politics, this was the first time the fans’ group with more than 10 lakh members in the state fielded candidates in an election.

According to Anand, after the announcement of the results, Vijay spoke to some of the winners on Wednesday.

“He said we should work towards a path that meets the expectations of people, who elected us,” said Anand, referring to his phone call with Vijay after the victory.

Change of heart

Vijay’s political entry raises many eyebrows as it was the same reason that led to a public tussle between him and his father S A Chandrasekhar after the latter tried to form Vijay Makkal Iyakkam (VMI), another outfit in his son’s name though without his permission. Vijay had to make a public statement to disown links with VMI and also filed a case against his father and mother Shoba Sekar, urging them to refrain from using his name or photo for any sort of political meeting or activities.

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