Ahead of a tightly fought, multi-cornered contest in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has set up a meeting with actor Rajinikanth for Sunday, to tilt the scales in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
“Mr. Modi is likely to meet Rajinikanth here tomorrow,” BJP national general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao said at a press conference here on Saturday.
This singular statement has put the spotlight again on Mr. Rajinikanth, the superstar of the Tamil film world, who strolled into politics famously two decades ago. Frustrated with the traffic jams in front of his house at Poes Garden for hours during AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa’s first term in office as Chief Minister, he chose to walk to his house one day, leaving his car on the road.
Basking in the success of his blockbuster movie Basha, in which he played the role of a Mumbai underworld don-turned-a suave autodriver in Chennai, Mr. Rajinikanth gave wholehearted support to the DMK-Tamil Maanila Congress combine. The DMK-TMC coalition trounced the AIADMK in 1996.
Despite pressure from his fans to float a party, Mr. Rajinikanth confined himself to films.
Eight years later, in 2004, Mr. Rajinikanth said he would vote for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, but he did not extend support to any front. The BJP did not win even a single seat in the State. And, the superstar went back to political wilderness. Ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections too, the BJP attempted to get Mr. Rajinikanth’s backing.
The party senior leader L.K. Advani, met him here in 2008, but could not win his confidence.
Even now, Mr. Rajinikanth was reluctant and kept refusing. But Mr. Modi was very particular to have at least a “friendly” meeting with Mr. Rajinikanth, sources in the BJP said.
With the release of his movie Kochadaiiyaan, directed by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin, scheduled for May 9, the superstar is unlikely to make any political statement, say industry sources.