Dravidian majors to face a stiff challenge

Actor’s entry may dent the vote base of both AIADMK and DMK

Updated - November 28, 2021 08:20 am IST

Published - January 01, 2018 12:42 am IST

For the ruling AIADMK and its principal rival DMK, the arrival of Rajinikanth in politics could pose different challenges.

The AIADMK, in disarray sans a towering leader, could see some migration to the actor’s party. For the DMK, which is desperate to capture Fort St. George, the march to victory might have just got more arduous as it is feared that the actor might tilt the scales against the party in a multi-cornered contest, especially in constituencies where the victory margins are narrower.

There is a view that since film fans constituted the AIADMK’s original support base, a section of them could migrate to Mr. Rajinikanth’s party. But second line leaders are confident that his entry would not make much of a difference.

“What has he done for the people? Our party founder Puratchi Thalaivar [M.G. Ramachandran] was known as people’s leader when he entered politics and so was our leader Amma [Jayalalithaa]. For anyone to enter politics, they need to have societal thinking and approach. Mr. Rajinikanth is just sharing his intentions in his retirement stage and it would not work,” said K.P. Munusamy, AIADMK Parliamentary Board member.

The former Minister also rejected speculation that the year-end development would prompt the ruling party and Mr. Dhinakaran to unite. “We are the AIADMK and Mr. Dhinakaran is just an individual,” he said.

Another AIADMK leader claimed that all these years, Mr. Rajinikanth was only nurturing the ideals of the BJP and the RSS discreetly and now he was being pushed to the stage now by someone. “The DMK and Naam Thamizhar Katchi founder Seeman can tackle the fan base of Mr. Rajinikanth. There is nothing to worry for our party,” he said.

Disqualified MLA Thangatamilselvan, a Dhinakaran supporter, said, “I don’t think any party can exist only with fans. It needs experienced leaders and he is just an actor.”

However, he felt it would give the warring AIADMK supporters a reason to ponder whether the lack of unity within was the reason behind such attempts by individuals like Mr. Rajinikanth. “There are chances that those in power and our leader would come together,” he added.

But Prof. Ramu Manivannan of Department of Politics, University of Madras, said, “Irrespective of Mr. Rajinikanth entering politics, the AIADMK is a sinking ship. But I think senior leaders intending to quit would find Mr. Dhinakaran a better option than going to Mr. Rajinikanth.”

Focus on alliance

DMK’s principal secretary Duraimurugan said his party was an iron pillar and “termites” could not touch it.

But not everyone shares this confidence. “Unlike in Lok Sabha polls, a few thousand votes and some times even a few hundred votes, can tilt the balance in an Assembly election. If Mr. Rajinikanth’s party candidates draw a few thousands votes from our kitty, it will be dangerous for us,” admitted a veteran DMK leader.

With Mr. Rajinikanth saying he would field candidates in all 234 constituencies, the DMK is under compulsion to redraw its strategy and cobble together a winnable alliance. In 2016, the DMK lost in 21 seats by a margin of fewer than 5,000 votes, and in eight seats, the AIADMK won by a margin of less than 1,000 votes. “Rajinikanth has to live up to the image that he is a spiritualist, and therefore, will be an honest politician. If he succeeds in retaining this image, he would capture the imagination of people,” said the senior DMK leader.

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