The venue for elections to the South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA) or Nadigar Sangam may change from MGR Janaki College in Chennai. The elections are scheduled to take place on June 23.
Reports say that Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy and others in the Government requested for a change in location since the college is near the homes of judges and other Ministers, and it will be difficult to provide adequate security.
A source close to the Sangam told Silverscreen that permission to change the location has been sought, but a decision is yet to be made. “A letter requesting the change was sent to retired judge E Padmanabhan, who is conducting the elections. He will take a decision and an announcement may be made tomorrow.”
The source added that the decision will have no interference from the two teams contesting elections – the ‘Pandavar Ani’ headed by Nasser and ‘Swami Shankardas Ani’ by K Bhagyaraj.
Campaigning is on in full swing and both teams have claimed majority support and the backing of stars such as Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. The big dispute is the Nadigar Sangam building that is under construction. Both teams’ official stand outside of this issue is not known yet.
Here’s a timeline of events:
August 2018: President Nasser, general secretary Vishal, treasurer Karthi and other office bearers of Pandavar Ani announced an extension of their three-year term due to the non-completion of the Sangam building.
The building, reportedly costing Rs 35 crore, was scheduled for inauguration in March 2019 but faced further delay.
April 28, 2019: The Sangam called for an urgent general body meeting to institute an election official to take all election related decisions. Vice president Ponvannan said: “Many hurdles and legal issues resulted in the delay. Work on the building is progressing briskly now.”
May 10: Vishal announced his wedding date. Said it would take place in the Nadigar Sangam building on October 9, 2019. (Before he was elected to power in 2015, he had said he wouldn’t get married until the building is complete.)
May 14: Retired judge E Padmanabhan appointed to conduct elections. A notice issued said eligibility criteria for anyone contesting included payment of membership fees between 2013 and 2019, no outgoing dues, payment of election deposit, etc.
May 15: Amidst speculations about the team opposite Nasser, actors T Rajendher, Simbu, SVe Shekar and Radhika Sarathkumar confirmed they were not contesting elections. The land dispute case against ex-office bearers Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi is pending, so cannot file nominations.
May 22: Speculations about Radhika contesting elections, with Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi’s backing began doing the rounds once again after Vishal hinted at an alliance by meeting Radhika and Sarathkumar over lunch.
June 3: Film producer, actor and owner of Vels Institutions Ishari Ganesh switched sides and said he would contest opposite Vishal for general secretary. He had recently donated Rs 1 crore for the Sangam building.
June 8: Pandavar Ani filed nominations with big names on its side. Actors Poochi Murugan and Karunas replaced Ponvannan as vice president. The 19 other members included Kushboo, Manobala, Vignesh, Nandhaa and Kovai Sarala.
They promised that the grand Sangam building with a wedding hall and other facilities would be completed in the next four to six months.
Nasser said there would be no political involvement in his team, but met Kamal Haasan soon after filing of nominations, and pictures of the meeting were circulated widely.
June 9: Sankardas Ani filed nominations with Bhagyaraj for president, Ishari Ganesh for gen-sec, Prashanth for treasurer and actors Poornima Bhagyaraj, Harathi Ganesh, Gayathri Raghuram, Ramesh Kanna, Vemal and Sreekanth on its side.
They also promised completion of the Nadigar Sangam building, and said that Rs 15 crore to 20 crore was further needed to complete the building.
Bhagyaraj also said he decided to contest elections only after consulting Rajinikanth and Kamal.
June 10: Bharathiraja was unanimously elected president of the Directors’ Association. He said his support was for his student Bhagyaraj.
June 11: Vishal clarified that both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth had not supported either team. Karunas filed a complaint with the election officer against Bhagyaraj for his remarks accusing the Pandavar Ani of bribing members for votes.
June 11: Vijay Sethupathi said he spoke to one of the teams and was convinced by its promises. “Many families are dependent on Nadigar Sangam’s work, it’s not just the 150-odd people who are covered by media. So, I hope that that whoever comes to power will do good work,” he said.
June 11: The final list of contestants accepted and rejected was released at night. Nine nominations were rejected for pending dues, non-payment of membership fee, etc. This included Vemal and Ramesh Kanna from Sanakardas Ani.
June 13: Vishal’s Pandavar Ani met Kamal Haasan for the second time and shared pictures.
They also released a promotional video saying their team was formed to fight the alleged corruption by previous office bearers Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi, and that they would uphold the Sangam’s values.
June 14: Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Vishal’s one-time friend, slammed him for the video that named her father and previous head Sarathkumar and mentioned the land dispute allegation against him that has not yet been proved. This, when Vishal has not proved himself an able leader, she wrote on Twitter.
“Everyone knows your double standards and lies. If you were such a saint, I don’t think people from your own so-called Pandavar Ani would have left and created a group to bring you down,” she said.
June 14: Bhagyaraj’s Sankardas Ani met Kamal Haasan once again and shared pictures.