For all the excitement it created, whether the BJP or its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, would benefit from his meeting with actor Rajinikanth, is still an open-ended question.
While DMK leader M. Karunanidhi refused to comment on the meeting and Mr. Rajinikanth’s remarks, senior Congress leader and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also declined to attach any significance to the meeting.
Replying to a question, Mr. Chidambaram told a press conference at Karaikudi that Mr. Rajinikanth had carefully worded his remarks after the meeting, stating there was nothing political about their meeting and he had wished Mr. Modi the best in his future.
The former Union Minister, S.R. Balasubramoniam, stressed that the meeting was unlikely to benefit the BJP or affect the prospects of other parties.
Mr. Rajinikanth openly supported the DMK-TMC combination in the 1996 elections and again lent his voice to the alliance in 1998, though the State recoiled in shock in the wake of the serial bomb-blasts in Coimbatore. The BJP opened its account in Tamil Nadu that year in a Lok Sabha poll.
Mr. Balasubramoniam, who knew the actor closely since the days of the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), launched by the late G.K. Moopananar, said it should be kept in mind that the BJP had failed to gain anything from Mr. Rajinikanth’s support to A.B. Vajpayee in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. “The party will be disappointed if it feels the meeting will change its fortune.”
Subagunarajan, editor of Kaatchipizhai, a film-cultural magazine, said the meeting would rather help Mr. Rajinikanth than Mr Modi, coming as it did prior to the release of his film Kochadaiyan. The result of the meeting, he said, was that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had been silent on Mr. Modi, started targeting the BJP.
Mr. Subagunarajan said Mr. Rajinikanth had failed to utilise the political avenues laid open before him in the past and he would be of no use to anyone in politics now. Moopanar himself had tried in vain to bring the actor into politics; other leaders like Rm. Veerappan also tried and failed.
“Every fifteen years, an economically empowered section in society seeks to enter politics, and it favours a new party as the existing ones cannot accommodate them. Mr. Rajinikanth could have emerged as a major force had he taken the plunge in 1996. The space that remained vacant has now been occupied by Mr. Vijayakant,” he said. If Mr. Rajinikanth openly campaigned for the BJP, it could help the party.
Endorsing Mr. Subagunarajan’s argument that Mr. Rajinikanth missed the bus, S. Balusekar, president of the Rajini Fans Club of Tirunelveli district, said that the actor was still a force to reckon with and he could bring about a change if he was directly involved in politics.
“Even the meeting with Mr. Modi has given an enormous boost to members of the fans club. The BJP stands to gain by the meeting. But the public wants him to enter politics instead of voicing the case of someone else,” he said.