The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu may have dominated the rural elections held in nine reorganised districts, but a deeper examination of the data reveals that actor Vijay – second only to megastar Rajinikanth in terms of popularity – has entered politics quietly through his fan club.
Vijay’s fan club won 115 of the 169 seats it fought, a strike rate of 68 percent, according to the results.
This was the first time Vijay had given his fan club’s office-bearers, the All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, permission to contest the elections. According to Bussy Anand, general secretary of the All India Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, they won 13 seats out of 115, including four each in Kallakurichi and Kancheepuram.
“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. Farmers, students, traders, lab workers, and even school teachers were among those who won, according to him.
The number of seats contested or won by Vijay supporters in village panchayat wards may appear modest in comparison to the state’s total of 27,003 local body positions, but the taste of victory on debut may lead to a larger role for the actor in state politics.
Anand, who acts as a liaison between Vijay and his followers in positions of power, claimed that running for office 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.
While the group’s flag and Vijay’s picture were used to campaign, Anand was among those who travelled throughout the districts to meet as many candidates as possible.
Although the Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam backed the AIADMK in the 2011 assembly elections, it stayed out of electoral politics after that, this was the first time the fans’ organisation with over 10 lakh members in the state ran candidates. Vijay spoke to several of the winners on Wednesday after the results were announced, according to Anand.