Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan on Friday launched the 'Naame Theervu' (We are the solution) campaign, an effort to bring together volunteers to support residents of Chennai with respect to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The actor-turned-politician, who has been vocal about the Tamil Nadu government's alleged inability to tackle the virus, stated that it is no longer time for criticism but for action.
The initiative launched on World Environment Day, according to Kamal Haasan, is solely meant for Chennai which has recorded over 18,000 cases so far. The party has set up a help desk which can be contacted through the number 63-69-81-11-11. On the other end you will be asked if you want to register as a volunteer or require assistance. The precondition to volunteer is that you must be a resident of Chennai. Distributing masks, sanitisers and even food were amongst the examples given by the actor.
When asked if this initiative hinted at a lack of trust in state and central government, Kamal Haasan said, "We are beyond criticism at this point. We have seen in neighbouring states that even if the virus is controlled, it keeps coming back. The Kerala government has used volunteers and seen good results. And we can do the same."
When asked about how the Tamil Nadu government was tackling the pandemic, the actor alleged that there was lack of transparency.
"Historically we have seen deaths being played down in times of a pandemic. This happened during the Spanish flu too," he said. "There is no transparency in what they (state government) are doing. On the streets, the numbers we are getting are different, but we don't want to press the alarm button yet," he stated.
He, however, acknowledged that this initiative was no different to the voluntary effort already being carried out by others.
"It is no different from any other schemes. Our only enemy right now is coronavirus and we have no political statements in this regard," said the actor. "Irrespective of the party in power, some states have fared well while others haven't. Citizen engagement is essential in this effort and we must encourage the government and people to become part of the fight together," he adds.