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Rajinikanth and TN Politics: Two Parallel Lines?

Neelambaran A |
“I never imagined myself as Chief Minister. I cannot think of myself in the Assembly, it is just not possible. I will be party chief,” said the actor, who is yet to launch a political party.
Rajinikanth and TN Politics

Image Courtesy : Deccan Herald

The political entry of popular actor Rajinikanth, 69, has been delayed yet again. In a press meet held on Thursday in Chennai, the actor did not take any questions while saying that he “only wants change.” The actor said he would launch a political party only if the mindset of the people changed in favour of ‘his’ policies – which he hasn’t clearly spelt out as yet. He said he had vested the duty of propagating ‘his policies’ to the people and his fans.

Ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections next year, the superstar also said “I never imagined myself as Chief Minister. I cannot think of myself in the Assembly, it is just not possible. I will be party chief.”

However, his announcement of inducting people of age less than 50 years, both in the yet to be announced party and the government, did not seem to go down well with several of his fans.

The Tamil superstar also spoke of pursuing ‘spiritual politics’, something which has left many of his fans puzzled and confused.

“I know that for many of my supporters and well-wishers, this is not acceptable. But I cannot have it any other way. What is the meaning of my spiritual politics, if I come to politics to be Chief Minister," Rajinikanth said at the press conference.

It may be recalled that in December 2017, the superstar had announced his intention of entering active politics. The actor, incidentally, has very often taken stands on various issues alongside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), such as on the controversial Citizenship Amendement Act.

At the press conference, the actor spoke of three-point plan for beginning his political journey, but much to the dismay of many followers and fans, he said he was against “party structure” followed by key political parties, which was only required to fight elections and was the “basic reason for corruption.”

The second point Rajinikanth spoke on was the ‘age factor’. The superstar, who turned 69 in December 2019, questioned the higher age of leaders of political parties and the elected members of the State Assembly. His said his party would accommodate 60-65% of youth, dashing the hopes of many of his long-time followers and fans.

The actor said a “dignified young man” would be made chief minister if he floats a political party and gets the numbers to participate in the government.

Rajinikanth also claimed that the people of the state vote only for the ‘face value’ of leaders and not the party.

"There were two stalwarts in our politics, one was Jayalalithaa and one was Kalaignar (M Karunanidhi). 70% votes were for the leaders Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, respectively, and not for the parties.  People must recognise that. Now, the time has come to displace them and to establish a new political culture," said the ‘Thalaivar’, as he is referred to by his fans.

A Confused Position?

Going by the points raised by Rajinikanth in the press meet, the actor seems concerned about increasing corruption, dynasty politics, absence of youth and educated people in politics. But, his reluctance to even name his party exhibits some confusion. The actor seemed to demand a guarantee from the people to vote for his party, once he announces it in the future, without making it clear what it would stand for.

It may be recalled that ever since Rajinikanth set his foot into politics by supporting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1996 and then supporting the BJP in many instances on policy issues, he betrays a lack of clarity. And when the actor spoke of pursuing ‘spiritual politics’, it was few fringe Right wing groups that supported his statement.

Opposition to Protests

The actor, who has a huge fan following in Tamil Nadu, has often taken positions against protests, be it the struggle against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, the ongoing anti-CAA, National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests, and has mostly stood in support of BJP. His close association with prime minister Narendra Modi and other leaders are also well known. The praises he showered upon the Modi- Shah duo also raise doubts over his aspirations and future political alignment.

On the other side, the superstar has been vocal in his support of the Right-wing groups including the Hindu Munnani and Hindu Makkal Katchi. Many political observers feel the BJP would have favoured him as the party or the alliance’s face, but the actor forming a new outfit and following BJP’s policies may also do good to them.

The present indecision of the ‘superstar’ would have come as a relief to the DMK and AIADMK, but the two-decade long wait by Rajinikanth’s fans seems never-ending, at least for now.

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