NEW DELHI: After being in Hamletian dilemma for over two decades, Rajinikanth has, finally, decided to take a political plunge. Rajinikanth, Tamil Nadu tinsel town’s superstar, announced on 3 November to launch a political party by January. Talking to reporters in Chennai, he said that on 31 December, he will announce the party structure and its name. Tamil Nadu goes to Assembly elections in May 2021.
Speculation about Rajinikanth entering politics started in 1996 when he first spoke against then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who was also his neighbour at Poes Garden. However, his first decisive statement of joining politics came 21 years later in December 2017.
Until 30 November, it was not clear whether he would take the political plunge and announce a political party. However, his fans’ association, named Rajini Makkal Mandram, were active on the ground, expecting that the superstar may announce a political party sooner or later. Rajini had also roped in Arjuna Murthy, former intellectual cell head of the BJP, and Gandhiya Makkal Iyakkam leader Tamizhruvi Manian.
Talking to reporters, Rajinikanth said that he would pursue “Spiritual Politics”, and supporters of Rajini believe that it would impact the Dravidian politics of DMK and AIADMK. However, political analysts believe that Rajinikanth is more likely to gain from the AIADMK and BJP vote bank than the DMK. Kolahala Srenivaas, a senior journalist, told The Sunday Guardian, “Spiritual politics means politics of transparency, welfare of people and good governance.”
Gurumurthy, a right-wing ideologue and a close friend of Rajinikanth, told The Sunday Guardian, “Spiritual politics in Tamil Nadu means anti-antheist politics of DMK and politics of national integration which has been weakened by the separatist mindset of the Dravidian movement.” Srenivaas further said, “Though the AIADMK sealed alliance with the BJP, Union Home Minister Amit Shah maintained a tactical silence on it. Shah would wait for Rajini to form a political party and there might be a post poll alliance.”
He said that whether Rajini joins the AIADMK-BJP alliance or decides to go alone, it would only help the AIADMK alliance. Tharasu Shyam, political analyst, said, “First, Rajini is the B-Team of DMK. He will help to split AIADMK-BJP votes. B Team in politics denotes a political outfit that helps the Opposition party to win by splitting votes. Second, Rajini is not M.G. Ramachandran. He is only a commercial hero.” However, Sumanth Raman, another senior journalist, disagreed with Srenivaas. He told The Sunday Guardian, “If Rajini decides to go solo or form a third front with smaller parties like PMK, and Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), then it would certainly pull DMK votes, but it would dent AIADMK-BJP vote bank because his ideology is closer to both these parties. In short, Rajini would attract votes which otherwise would have gone to the AIADMK-BJP alliance.”
Gurumurthy said Rajini’s party would attract anti-AIADMK, anti-DMK and pro-BJP votes. Shyam said, “Currently, Rajini has 5-6% of his votes. In the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi was new to Tamil Nadu politics and the NDA alliance had garnered 1618 votes. So, it is assured almost 15% votes.” He added, “This time, it will be split between different votes, including Kamal Haasan’s MNM, Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi and other smaller parties.” Talking about spiritual politics, Raman said that for the last 70 years, the politics of vilification was prevalent in Tamil Nadu. “This kind of politics where abuse of Hindu God and Hindu practices is very sad and it has to be changed. Now, Rajinikanth says he wants to change non-caste and non-religion politics.”