Actor Sarath Kumar launches own party

Popular movie star Sarath Kumar formally launched his party on Friday, christening it the Akila India Samuthuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK) or the All India People's Party for Equality.

The 53-year-old actor and former Rajya Sabha member, hailing from the influential Nadar community, also unveiled his party flag, in red and yellow with a star on the right hand corner.

Dismissing reports that he had floated a party only to woo the backward but powerful Nadar community, Sarath said the AISMK is not out to woo his community even though it would be guided by the spirit of Kamaraj, who also hailed from the same community. "We believe in a casteless society and in egalitarian principles," said the actor.

Sarath Kumar had announced his plans to start his own party in May this year to draw youth "disillusioned by the Dravidian parties, which had done little to develop the state despite being in power for four decades".

The actor had quit the DMK and joined the AIADMK days before the May 2006 Assembly election. But he quit the AIADMK in November last year, citing "professional workload" as the reason.

The official launch of AISMK comes two years after actor Vijayakant started his Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam. The DMDK fared well in the Assembly election and the local body polls.

Many leading stars of the Tamil film industry have tried to follow in the footsteps of matinee idol M G Ramachandran, who had a long innings as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK he founded. Actors-cum directors like T Rajendher and K Bagyaraj barely made a mark and gave up early in their attempt to float political parties. While Jayalalithaa, an actress herself until the late 1970s, was Chief Minister for two terms and heads the main opposition AIADMK, the late Sivaji Ganesan, raved for his acting talents, failed as a politician.

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