Voicing his opinion on the Manusmriti controversy for the first time, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan on Thursday said it was unnecessary to talk about a book that is not in circulation. The actor-politician was speaking to the media in a press meet ‘Reimagining Thamizh Nadu’ organised by his party in Chennai. Answering a slew of questions about the upcoming Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, his equations with actor Rajinikanth and the possibility of aligning with the BJP for the elections, Kamal Haasan also answered reporters’ questions on the Manusmriti controversy. “Manusmriti is a book that is not in circulation. The criticism against it is unnecessary. You ask me about the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or if anyone lays hands on our Constitution, there will be protests. There is no need to talk about this (Manusmriti),” he said.
Kamal Haasan’s comments come around a week after a controversy erupted over Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief and Lok Sabha MP Thol Thirumavalavan’s comments against the Manusmriti. At a webinar organised by the European Periyar Ambedkar Comrades’ Federation on ‘Periyar and Indian Politics’ on September 27, Thirumavalavan said that the Manusmriti denigrated women, portraying them as ‘prostitutes’. His comments sparked protests a month later, with BJP alleging that Thirumavalavan’s remarks hurt Hindu sentiments and were derogatory to women. Following the controversy, the VCK also had organised protests across Tamil Nadu to seek a ban on the text.
In Thursday’s press meet, Kamal Haasan said that MNM’s electoral alliance will be with ‘good people’. He had recently ruled out the possibility of forming an electoral alliance with the ‘Kazhagams’ in Tamil Nadu, referring to the DMK and the AIADMK. When asked if that meant he is open to an alliance with the BJP, Kamal Haasan said, “I said I am open to ally with good people.” He added that good people are in all the parties and asked them all to join the MNM. “There is no need to talk about political alliance at this point in time,” he said. He also emphasised that he has never been the B team in any domain, when asked if he was the B team of BJP, given his criticisms against the ruling party at the Union government have always been softer when compared with his criticisms against the AIADMK.
The actor also commented on the Vel Yatra planned by the BJP in Tamil Nadu. “My intention is to bring in jobs. Anybody can take this spear in their hands (Vel). But to create jobs is a huge responsibility. That’s the first duty to be done for Tamil Nadu. If they ban the Vel Yatra, it is good,” he said. Adding that the state government might have banned it considering the law and order of the state, Kamal said, “We can thank them (state government) for safeguarding the law and order.”