As Tamil Nadu inches close to the polling day, the political decorum maintained by leaders and campaigners is on a downward spiral. From personal attacks to sexist remarks, the 2021 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu has seen it all already. On Wednesday, a clip from BJP’s National Women’s Wing President and Coimbatore South candidate Vanathi Srinivasan speaking about actor Kamal Haasan, the chief of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) and the candidate from the same constituency, went viral on social media. In a double entendre, she said Kamal Haasan performs only ‘lip service.’
In a reply to MNM, which called her a ‘thukkada’ politician (small politician), Vanathi questioned Kamal Haasan’s stature to call her that. Speaking from atop her campaign vehicle in Coimbatore South constituency, Vanathi said, “I ask that actor, you have performed only lip service these days. What is lip service? You can take it in two meanings for him. One, doing (service by) just talking, and the other is doing service only for the lips. Can you call me a ‘thukkada politician’?.”
A few days ago, MNM’s Propaganda Secretary CK Kumaravel issued a statement that said Kamal Haasan is ready to participate in a debate with Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet ministers, including Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The statement added that Kamal will then debate with ‘thukkada’ politicians like Vanathi Srinivasan, for whom MNM Student Wing members will itself suffice. To this, Vanathi had released a video in which she said, “I was born in a small village, studied in a government school and became a lawyer. I have two children and a family and I have sacrificed all of it to serve the people of my constituency. In the last five years, I have done so much for the constituency, which can be readily checked on my social media accounts. If I am being called a ‘thukkada’ politician, is this the respect they (MNM) give to women?”
CK Kumaravel had issued the statement after Union Minister Smriti Irani challenged Kamal Haasan to have an open debate with Vanathi Srinivasan so that the people of Coimbatore South constituency will have an idea on who knows better about the issues concerning their constituency.