Rajini's political entry: Present perfect but future tense

Rajini has done a fine balancing act, but he has to go beyond ‘spiritual politics’

Updated - January 01, 2018 12:42 pm IST

Published - January 01, 2018 12:37 am IST - CHENNAI

Enigma of arrival: Actor Rajinikanth after announcing his entry into politics at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai on Sunday.

Enigma of arrival: Actor Rajinikanth after announcing his entry into politics at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai on Sunday.

After humming and hawing for two decades, actor Rajinikanth has chosen a perfect time to take a political plunge. And by promising to follow spiritual politics and to contest in all the 234 constituencies, he has seemingly distanced himself from the Dravidian and Left parties.

“He is also unlikely to join hands with the BJP because he has talked about politics devoid of caste and religion. He also talked about spiritual politics and not religious politics. I feel his entry will have a direct bearing on Dravidian parties because they are already dominating the politics scenario of Tamil Nadu,” said Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol. Thirumavalavan.

Mr. Rajinikanth has carefully chosen his words as he was under compulsion to dispel the notion that the BJP and the RSS were pulling strings as far as his political entry was concerned. He used to say that he would not enter politics so long as DMK leader M. Karunanidhi is active in politics. He distanced himself from the DMK by refusing to be a speaker at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the DMK organ Murasoli recently.

“Now the political situation is in his favour,” said Mr. Thirumavalavan, pointing out that actor and DMDK founder Vijayakant, after showing a lot of promise, fizzled out because of the presence of Jayalalithaa and Mr. Karunanidhi in the political arena.

To the argument that his roots as a Karnataka-born, Marathi-speaking actor would work against him, especially at a time when Tamil nationalist groups were gaining ground, Mr. Thirumavalavan said it was unlikely to find any takers.

‘Rule of two families’

“The Madras Presidency had always been cosmopolitan in its outlook and Tamil Nadu people continue to follow the tradition. Mr. Karunanidhi’s campaign against MGR as a Malayali failed to cut any ice with the people. In the same manner, Jayalalithaa overcame the campaign that she belonged to Karnataka. He is able to retain both the superstar and Patchai Tamilan images,” said Mr. Thirumavalavan.

K. Krishnasamy, founder of Puthiya Tamizhagam, said there was a clear connection between Mr. Rajinikanth’s emergence and Dravidian parties’ failure to establish an identity for Tamils. “The rule of Dravidian parties is actually a rule of two families, with a dominant presence of a few communities. They are unable to get Tamils an identity without caste,” he alleged. He felt Mr. Rajinikanth would succeed in politics only if he promised to offer a government with alternative policies.

DMK leader Duraimurugan, while welcoming the actor’s decision, said he couldn’t understand the concept of ‘spiritual politics’. “ Will he and his party MLAs sing bhajans in the Assembly?” he quipped.

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