Celeb status isnt an impediment in politics LDF candidate Mukeshs interview
news Friday, April 15, 2016 - 20:19

When the TNM team arrives at the famed Kizhakeveedu –actor Mukesh’s house- in Polayathodu (Kollam) on Tuesday, he makes no bones about having been kept waiting for a quarter of an hour despite being in the middle of a hectic campaigning schedule in the Kollam constituency for the assembly elections scheduled to be held onMay 16.

Beginning with his official plunge into politics, Mukesh shares: “My father O Madhavan was a very well-known Leftist theatre and film artist. As a panchayat president for 18 years, my earliest memories are of him trying to sort out the problems of the public during the day while keeping aside his evenings for theatre. So both acting and politics are very much a genetic gift. I have always been very open about my leftist leanings and have canvassed votes for many LDF candidates in the past. The last 34 years saw me thrive as a film-actor and a TV host. That’s just half of my career. The other half is waiting to be tapped. That moment is now here.”

Contesting from the sitting left MLA and former minister PK Gurudasan’s seat in Kollam had sparked off a controversy initially, but Mukesh is quick to brush it away. “My campaign was kick-started by Gurudasan himself. A fatherly figure to me, it was he who gave me a clear-cut idea as to the areas I should concentrate on, the pressing issues faced by the constituency and how to go about my campaign. So where’s the controversy?”

He goes on to add: “Just a week before the final list came, did I myself come to know about state CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan proposing my name. I never went canvassing for the seat. If I had known earlier, I would have at least rescheduled my shooting schedules.”

How does he feel about onscreen celebrities indulging in politics?

“It’s time we start thinking differently. People from all walks of life should come forward to serve the people in some capacity or the other. Politics offers a good opening for the same. And one thing is assured, when genuine artists come onto the political scene, there is simply no scope for corruption.”

Remind him that Kerala has never been partial to actor-politicians and B Ganesh Kumar and Innocent are rare exceptions, Mukesh retorts: “Aren’t they enough? You must remember that Innocent was elected as an MP after defeating a seasoned politician like PC Chacko.”

He goes on to jog the public memory a bit: “What about our very popular former state CM the late EK Nayanar who put sarcasm to excellent use as a political weapon? Does that not make him a great artist in his own right?”

Citing an example from his tenure as the Kerala Sangeeta Natak Akademi chairman –which is a political appointment- Mukesh shares an incident when he had to go and meet the then state finance minister Dr. Thomas Isaac for release of funds.

On seeing him, the minister came towards him and asked why he had taken the trouble to come in person and that it was just a matter of a phone call.

“So you see, our celebrity status need not always be an impediment. If used in the proper manner, we can use it for the good of the masses. As an actor, when I go somewhere, I have seen people rush out of their houses just to get a glimpse of me. But when I approach them in my new role of an aspiring MLA, they prefer to wait for me to enter their homes and interact, as their expectations of me are different in this scenario,” he grins.

His political priorities if elected

- First and foremost, the sore lack of work for labourers at the cashew-nut factories in Kollam. My maternal grandmother was a cashew-nut worker. So I personally know of their struggles and I would like to seek redress of their grievances. You see i was not born a celebrity. I came up the hard way.

- Acute shortage of water is another priority area that needs to be addressed. So many households that I have visited during the course of my campaign have complained that their elected councilors are inaccessible to sort out this issue and hence they even have to resort to pay for procuring water through other means.

-  Thirdly, the fisher-folk here are in need of a proper marketplace with all the modern amenities. One chap I met told me that he had procured fish worth Rs 20000 in the morning and by noon he had managed to sell only one-fifth. People nowadays prefer to go to super markets for the same.

-We also have a number of lakes and ponds here which are being polluted by factory waste. Take the example of Ashtamudi Lake alone. Dead fish have been found floating on its surface in recent times. If we sincerely desire to salvage our ecosystem, stringent measures to ensure an effective waste disposal system in all factories in Kollam is the need of the hour.

"There are many more which can be enumerated and addressed once I get elected," he signs off.

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