Actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday began his tour of some parts of Tamil Nadu ahead of the launch of his political party in the evening, The Indian Express reported. He began his tour by visiting former president and late nuclear scientist APJ Abdul Kalam’s home in Rameswaram.

He addressed the media along with members of the fishing community in Rameswaram after meeting Kalam’s brother and sister-in-law. He said the former president was a “great source of inspiration” for him. He said he was proud to be a film actor, but his political journey gave him greater pride.

Haasan was forced to cancel a meeting with students at Kalam’s school in Rameswaram after right-wing groups issued threats. “They [Hindutva groups] can stop me from visiting the school, but they cannot stop me from my learning,” he said, according to The News Minute.

An unidentified leader of the fisherfolk community said Haasan had taken their problems in his hands, according to News18. “He is curious and concerned about us. He is our fisher-friend,” the leader was quoted as saying.

Another fisherperson said the central and state governments had not helped the community. “Our livelihood is being taken away from us,” he said. “Kamal Haasan is our lifeboat. I hope he can help us. We don’t belong to any political party, we are just fisherfolk.”

Although the actor has invited Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to his party’s launch in Madurai later on Wednesday, Kumar and Vijayan are unlikely to attend the event. The Indian Express reported that the two leaders they may send video messages, and that Kejriwal would be present at the launch.

On Sunday, Haasan had met Rajinikanth and invited him to attend the launch of his party. However, he said only “time would tell” if he would form a political alliance with Rajinikanth.

Political reactions

As Haasan began his political journey, white flags bearing the Tamil Nadu map and the phrase “tomorrow is ours” in Tamil were seen in Rameswaram, and the start of the actor-turned-politician’s tour attracted reactions from other party leaders.

MK Stalin, the working president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said fragrance-less paper flowers bloom seasonally but wither soon – an apparent jibe at actors entering politics and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s lotus symbol, News18 reported. It is perceived that Rajinikanth will be a silent ally of the BJP in the south.

Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan told reporters that Haasan seemed to have “started a political party to compete against someone”, referring to Rajinikanth. She added that Tamil Nadu was not in a state where only Haasan could save it.

Thol Thirumavalan, leader of Dalit party Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, alleged that Haasan and Rajinikanth were both BJP agents brought into politics to work against the DMK in Tamil Nadu.