While people in general and Rajinikanth’s fans in particular, look for their superstar to fill the vacuum of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, many are still sceptical about his imminent entry to politics
TS Venkatesan from Chennai
Will he or won’t he? Once again the million dollar question has been doing rounds and nagging the minds of many in Tamil Nadu whether superstar Rajinikanth will take a political plunge or not, as he is meeting his fans to gauge their feelings. When it comes to Rajinikanth’s statements on it, he just can’t be crystal clear with over hundred statements.
Supestar Rajinikanth’s fans, friends, politicians have been urging him to enter politics ever since the release of ‘Murattu Kaalai’—(Rogue Bull 1980) in which the title song ‘introduces Rajini as a kind-hearted man who can turn into a ferocious lion if drawn into a battle. Since then, his fans and friends often ask him to enter politics but he avoids
committing on this.
Again this time this subject has sprung up for heated discussion among his fans and media circles. On April 15, Rajinikanth was closeted with his fans in Chennai and gave a 16-minute speech that left them more confused than before. They are at a loss to understand what he is trying to stay. He left them guessing once again. His entry into politics has been a subject of intrigue and debates since 1996 when he gave the ‘Oust Jayalalithaa’ call. This helped DMK-TMC combine win the Assembly election. With Jayalalithaa’s death in December last year, speculation is back. Rajini, who was to meet his fans last month, postponed the meeting, adding to the suspense. His fans made an emotional plea to Rajinikanth to enter politics and “take over the reins of Tamil Nadu which is without a leader” and fill the vacuum created by the charismatic leader Jayalalithaa. As part of his five-day interaction with fans, Rajinikanth posed for
photographs with them.
He told his fans, “I am a mere tool. I serve as an actor today. Whatever role God gives me tomorrow, I will stay true to that. I don’t know what that role is. It is in God’s hands. “Rajini used the term ‘God’s will’ whenever he referred to talk about his entry into politics. And that was the closest he got to being committal. Rajinikanth said he had no political ambition, but was often dragged into political debates despite stressing that he was “neither an influential political leader nor a social activist.”
Thousands of fans from Karur, Kanyakumari and Dindigul districts gathered at the Raghavendra Mandapam (a wedding hall owned by him named after saint Raghavendrar of Mantralayam in Karnataka) as early as 6 am to hear their beloved actor to break the suspense over his future plans. Referring to his 1996 statement, Rajini said, “What occurred 21 years ago was an accident. Due to some circumstances, I pledged my support to a coalition and people made it win. Since then my name has been dragged into politics during every election.” He said post-1996, some of his fans misused his name in politics to earn money. “Such people among my fans should keep away from me if I enter politics,” he warned.
DMK working president MK Stalin said he does not want to express his “personal view” on the subject. “It is up to Rajinikanth whether he wants to enter politics or not,” he added.
Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan of the BJP hailed Rajinikanth’s advice to fans. “I am happy that he is leading from the front. I welcome his appeal to youngsters to abstain from bad habits,” he said.
BJP national secretary H Raja said, Rajinikanth is a “popular” personality and is welcome to join BJP. He said the actor has to first make up his mind about joining politics when asked if the BJP will approach him. “He has every right to form a political party or join politics. But so far he has not taken a firm stand. So we have to wait and see,” he added.
One of his fans who attended meeting said “Rajini will stand for the people. He will enter politics soon. It could take five or six months. He will arrive alone like a lion. Some parties have been seeking his support but he will stand alone and serve the people of Tamil Nadu.”
Political commentator Gautham said, “Rajini will not take risk and join politics. He has no real intention to do so. Prior to his film release and with an aim to make it a box office hit, he uses these tactics of meeting his fans. Nothing is anew in the present exercise. If he was serious, he would have done in 1996 itself. He gave his voice in 1996 Assembly polls asking voters to vote against Jayalalithaa regime. But in the 1998 election after the famous Coimbatore bomb blasts, BJP won four seats despite his saying Muslims should not be blamed for the blast. His fan clubs are not the organised and cadre based ones. The existing office bearers’ average age is above 40. If he enters politics, he needs youngsters to do field work. By showing this stick, he would reap benefits from establishments”
“If Rajinikanth enters politics finally with a commitment, it will throw a spanner in the DMK’s dream of capturing power from AIADMK and would put an end to the Dravidian rule,” said a political observer.