On Monday afternoon, actor-politician Kamal Haasan penned a long letter to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi expressing his displeasure at how the Coronavirus crisis has been handled so far and about how the livelihood of the people at the lowest rung of the economic ladder doesn’t seem to be a matter of concern.
The letter came in reaction to the 9pm-9 minute lights-out initiative observed on Sunday, April 5 after the previous 5-minute ‘clapping’ initiative observed on March 22 throughout India. PM Narendra Modi had directed the people of India to do so in an attempt to express solidarity for the front liners and healthcare workers who have been working relentlessly to help tackle the global pandemic.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) April 6, 2020
The actor spoke of how he had already addressed a letter to the Prime Minister on March 23, the day after the one-day Janata Curfew, asking him not to blur out the people at the very bottom from his sight. He said that he was shocked to see the sudden imposition of a strict lockdown, much like how demonetisation was announced and was proved wrong once again just like in 2016.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) March 23, 2020
He said that Modi is one of the very few leaders to have such mass appeal, about 1.4 billion, who would follow his orders without question, this applying for both his supporters and naysayers. But he also mentioned that the willingness to follow orders doesn’t imply that they could be dominated. “We will comply with your wishes and orders but our compliance must not be confused as our subjugation. My own role as a leader of my people entails me to speak my mind and question your ways. Please pardon my lack of etiquette, if any,” said the actor.
He said he fears the repetition of the problems that occurred during demonetisation except on a larger scale that might lead to the death of the poor. He also spoke of how these psychotherapy techniques may bring peace and calmness but only cater to the richer section, those who have balconies to do so, and not for the foundation on which it is built. “I’m sure you don’t want to be a balcony government only for the balcony people by completely ignoring the poor who are the biggest constituent of our society, our support system and the foundation on which the middle-class, the well-to-do and the rich build their lives,” said the politician.
உயிர் காக்க 21 நாட்கள் உள்ளிருக்க சொல்லும் நேரத்தில்,அணிசேரா தொழிலாளர்கள் எங்ஙனம் பசியாறுவர் என்பதையும் கவனத்தில் கொள்க.
பெருமுதலாளிகளுக்கு மட்டும் உதவும் நேரம் இதுவல்ல. இந்திய நிதிநிலையை என்றும் காத்தவன் சிறுதொழில் செய்பவனே.
அவனை உதாசீனித்தவர் பதவி இழப்பர். இது சரித்திரம்.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) March 24, 2020
He emphasised on how Modi was more concerned about bailing out the rich instead of focussing on the collective society. He added that after the current pandemic ends, a deadlier one though smaller in profile – HED’20 (Hunger, Exhaustion, and Deprivation) would impact us, the ground for which is currently being laid.
Kamal Haasan said that instead of tackling the situation when possible, Modi tends to slide into his comfort zone and come up with spirited election-style campaign ideas. He added that Modi has created the impression that he finds comfort in outsourcing responsible behaviour. He also takes a dig at how Modi’s government refuses to accept the opinions of intellectuals. “I am sorry if I have offended you with the use of the word intellectual here, for I know that you and your government do not like that word. But I am a follower of Periyar and Gandhi and I know they were intellectuals first. It’s the intellect that guides one into choosing the path of righteousness, equality, and prosperity for all,” he wrote.
He questioned Modi as to why his government didn’t prevent the various congregations that have led to an increase in the number of cases. “Long into the epidemic, when the country’s entire law and order system had been primed, your system failed to stop congregations of ignorant and foolish people in different parts of the country. These have become the biggest hubs for the spread of the epidemic in India. Who is responsible for all the lives lost due to this negligence?” read the letter.
The actor said that while Modi had a 4-month notice period to keep the nation in order he decided to act upon the situation in a mere 4 hours, proving that he isn’t a visionary leader. He also commented on how his officials only looked at ways of rebuking feedback instead of looking at the good side of it.
Kamal also said, “I dare anyone to call me an anti-national this time. The common populace cannot be blamed for being ill-prepared for a crisis of this magnitude but you can be and shall be blamed for this. The government is appointed and paid by the people to keep their lives normal and safe.”
He ended the note by appealing to the leader to listen to the voices of the nation who truly care. He said that India’s biggest potential is nothing but the human population and that this was the time to unite instead of choosing sides. “We are angry, but we are still on your side. Jai Hind!,” added the letter.
When Modi had called for the 9 pm-9minute initiative, Kamal took to Twitter to express how he was expecting an announcement for the betterment of the people but ended up listening to an initiative that had been taken up by his political party way before (Torchlight being the symbol of MNM).
பிரதமர் பேசுகிறார் என்றதும் நான் அதிகம் எதிர்பார்த்தேன். பாதுகாப்புக்கவசங்கள் தட்டுப்பாடுக்கான தீர்வு, அத்தியாவசிய பொருட்கள் தட்டுப்பாடின்றி விநியோகம், ஏழைமக்களின் வாழ்வாதாரம், வருங்கால பொருளாதார நடவடிக்கை என, ஆனால் நாம் என்றோ கையில் எடுத்த டார்ச்சுக்கே அவர் இன்றுதான் வருகிறார்.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) April 3, 2020
He had recently offered to provide his party office building, if the government was willing, for treating COVID-19 positive patients with the help of the doctors working for his party. He was willing to convert the quarters into a temporary medical centre to help the people in crisis.
இந்த நெருக்கடி நேரத்தில் எளியோருக்கு பணி செய்ய மக்கள் நீதி மய்யத்தில் இருக்கும் மருத்துவர்களை கொண்டு, என் வீடாக இருந்த கட்டிடத்தை, தற்காலிகமாக எளிய மக்களுக்கான மருத்துவ மய்யமாக்கி,மக்களுக்கு உதவ நினைக்கிறேன்.அரசின் அனுமதி கிடைத்தால்,அதை செய்ய தயாராக காத்திருக்கிறேன்.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) March 25, 2020
Recently, rumours were widespread that the actor had tested Coronavirus positive which was later refuted by the actor. Officials had pasted a quarantine sticker on the building of his political party office, Makkal Needhi Maiam, assuming that Gautami, who had recently returned from Dubai was still living in the building.
The actor had also put out a video about ways to tackle the pandemic a few weeks back. The two-part video covered everything right from social distancing to washing hands, and the need to stay indoors.