Will Vijay’s Iyakkam rock Tamil heartland? All eyes on actor’s political debut

Thalapathy Vijay
Vijay increased indulgence in social activities and the making of political statements of late are being seen by many as his first step to that big decision. Photo: IANS

It was the voting day during the 2021 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. As usual, fans and media were after famous Kollywood actors to capture them live exercising their franchise. Tamil superstar Vijay, fondly called Thalapathy by fans, then surprised one and all by pedaling his way to the polling booth. The speculations of his testing the political waters and following the paths set by great actors like MGR are doing the rounds since then. His films were no more confined to being a means of entertainment. The firebrand dialogues in his films, criticizing issues of mass interest like the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and essential drug prices, and the tickling of political blights, began to hurt many. The Tamil heartland sensed it and is keenly awaiting the entry of Thalapathy to lead the state. And the latest instance, when Vijay held students, the future voters, close to his hearts and advised them how to become good voters, talks regarding his political entry once again became a topic of hot debate. So, what exactly is his intention? And if he decides to make the political cut, will the same lead to the blossoming of yet another political party in the neighbouring state?

Homework and Meetings
The first thing that the actor did as part of launching himself in politics was to closely observe and study different aspects unique to the social fabric of Tamil Nadu such as the caste system, corruption, bureaucracy, and other forms of social inequalities. This he achieved by deploying the Vijay Makkal Iyakkam — a fan club-turned-welfare organization.

The confidence rose further when the organization won 219 seats during the local body elections held after the DMK government came to power in the state. The decision to make social interventions, however, stems from the realization that the victory, though moral boosting, was not enough to repeat the fete in the upcoming Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections. Vijay, too, has adopted the line that the Left and Dravidian parties have long espoused -- the principle of social equality as their core political ideology, to move up the political ladder.

A key reason for this comes from the realization that only the Dravidian parties have been able to hold on to power in Tamil Nadu continuously for the past five decades. As part of his homework, the actor also had meetings with several eminent politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on different occasions.

The Vijayakanth route
Many are of the view that actor Vijay is following in the footsteps of veteran actor Vijayakanth, who established the political outfit DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) and went on to become the Opposition leader of Tamil Nadu. Vijayakanth could successfully convert his fan base into a political outfit through the many meetings with fan associations and charity events organized by them and slowly lapping up political discussions over the years. The Vijay Makkal Iyakkam appears to be moving in the same direction. The events are being planned through discussions with Iyakkam’s leadership at regular intervals at his office in Panayur.

The outfit caught the headlines by holding various programmes like garlanding the statue of Ambedkar on his birth anniversary, organizing iftars, and distributing free meals to poor on the World Hunger Day, etc. Finally, the actor gave enough hints about his political ambitions during a meeting organized to felicitate students.

Curiously enough, the event witnessed a massive participation from the student community, a majority of whom are slated to exercise their right to adult franchise in the 2026 elections. Above all these, Vijay also puts a special emphasis on reflecting his political stance through his recent and upcoming flicks.

Exhorting youths to rise above money
Vijay had hinted about the flow of big cash in Tamil Nadu politics in the race to power, during a recent felicitation function to laud students who had excelled in public examinations. He exhorted future voters to staunchly oppose the vote-for-money strategy being employed by various political outfits.

Even if money is not employed to garner votes, it’s a must to hold election campaigns and keep workers, right from the bottom level, in good spirits and ensure their sincere efforts for the party’s victory. As per the figures submitted to the election commission, the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) spent Rs 114 crore. However, unofficial figures make it clear that a leading political outfit in Tamil Nadu has to spend anywhere between Rs 800 to Rs 1000 crore to make it count in an electoral battle. Vijay and his team have to clearly realize this and search for ways to raise funds to invest in the elections. Meanwhile, the actor himself will want to do maximum films and fill the coffers before venturing into the political field. There are reports of the actor having hiked the reward for appearing in a film of late.

Eyeing 2026 assembly polls?
Though actor Vijay is yet to publicly reveal his political ambitions, his fan organization, and workers are hopeful of his entering politics in the near future itself. However, it’s up to the actor to choose which polls to pitch in – the 2024 Lok Sabha polls or the 2026 assembly elections, cites administrators of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam while vowing that the fan-club-turned-welfare-outfit and its workers are ready waiting for the orders of Thalapathy to implement it in letter and spirit. They share hopes that if the actor actively raises his voice and intervenes in the welfare and development issues of the Tamil heartland, then it won’t be an issue for him to garner sizable votes. Meanwhile, the actor is also cautioned to make each step with caution given that popular actors like Kamal Haasan couldn’t make much waves in Tamil Nadu politics.

Politics is not cinema. It requires much patience, tolerance, struggle, and willpower to emerge victorious in the polls. If Vijay makes sufficient preparations and decides to don the new role, then Tamil Nadu will witness a cinema-style electoral battle in the 2026 assembly elections.

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