- Rajinikanth’s recent speech triggered speculation as to whether he would finally choose the political path.
- His association with PM Modi gives rise to conjectures that he may take the political plunge with BJP backing.
- But, there are some who are convinced that the actor may chart his own course.
Actor Rajnikanth’s recent speech to fans, calling for changing “the system” and preparing for “a war”, though predictably ambiguous, has set off a fierce political debate. Will he emerge as the BJP mascot? Will he take the plunge, launch his own outfit and change the bipolar nature of Dravidian politics? Or, as he has done all these years, will he steer clear of politics?
The questions are churning the already turbulent Tamil Nadu politics.
His statements on Friday, tinged with political innuendos, have evoked strong feelings and triggered speculation as to whether he would finally choose the political path. What has added grist for the political rumour mill is the BJP element.
The actor’s close association with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his perceived saffron leanings have given rise to conjectures that he may take the political plunge with BJP backing.
“Rajnikanth has maintained contact with the BJP for a long time, but never political,” said senior BJP leader from Tamil Nadu and Rajya Sabha member L Ganesan.
“First let him decide if he wants to come to politics. BJP wants good people,” said Ganesan, who feels the actor, by making such statements, may be trying to feel the pulse of the people.
Post Jayalalithaa, new leaders have emerged on the horizon, but few with the kind of fan base and popularity that Rajnikanth boasts.
The actor’s entry into politics could change the fortunes of politicians like DMK working president M K Stalin and less tested leaders like O Panneerselvam and chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who head the two rival AIADMK factions.
With former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death and an ailing DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi retiring from politics, Rajinikanth could dramatically change the bipolar nature that marked Tamil politics for four or five decades.
Stalin is yet to prove himself as an election winner and a divided AIADMK is vulnerable.
“If Rajinikanth joins BJP, it will gain,” said senior journalist and Tamil writer P Sudhangan.
“The BJP does not want a new leader like Jayalalithaa to emerge in Tamil Nadu. They also want to to ensure that the DMK does not come to power. They are looking for a charismatic face,” said Sudhangan.
There are some like Sudhangan who are convinced that the actor may chart his own course.
“Rajinikanth is unlikely to join BJP as he may lose his individual identity,” said Sudhangan.
Twenty-one years ago, Rajnikanth raised his voice (against former chief minister J Jayalalithaa with his famous campaign slogan, “even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa is voted to power). “It was the right time. People wanted change.”
AIADMK was routed in the 1996 assembly election. Later, he patched up with Jayalalithaa and distanced himself from politics. Today, the actor appears inclined to dabble in it. Whatever he does, the Rajini-style politics could spice up Tamil Nadu in the coming days.