Rajinikanth had hinted at joining Kamal Haasan’s political party in future.

 

NEW DELHI: It was in Tamil director K Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal that Rajinikanth made his cinematic debut in a supporting role with then already established Kamal Haasan as the hero of the film. That was in 1975. Now, nearly 45 years later, there is a possibility of them coming together, not on the silver screen, but on a political platform to take on the Dravidian parties.

Rajini himself hinted at such “wonders” happening at a function organised last week to celebrate Kamal Haasan completing 60 years in cinema. In response to a speaker colleague’s wish to see Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan in alliance for the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, the superstar said, “Two years ago, Edappadi Palaniswami wouldn’t even have dreamt of becoming Chief Minister. But it happened. And then they said he will be the CM for only a few days. But he has been in the post for two years. So, wonders will happen. It happened yesterday, it is happening today and it will happen tomorrow.” Kamal Haasan has already a political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, in place. Rajini has been hemming and hawing for quite some time about floating a party of his own. He was even considered a BJP sympathiser till the other day, while Haasan is an open critic of Hindutva ideology.

In fact Haasan had in the past expressed his reservations about Rajini’s “saffron” politics. At the same time, Haasan had made it clear that Rajini’s political affiliations won’t come in the way of their friendship. “Just like our cinema careers took off in different directions after we acted together, we may move separately in the next facet of our lives… But no matter where out paths take us…our friendship will never fade,” Haasan had said on the occasion.

Early this month, Rajini, reacting to the BJP releasing photos showing the legendary Tamil poet philosopher Thiruvalluvar in saffron robes, had this to say, “There is an attempt to saffronise me like there is an attempt to saffronise Thiruvalluvar. Both Thiruvalluvar and I won’t get embroiled in this controversy.” He went on to say that “they (not clear as to who) are trying to colour me as a BJP man, but that is definitely not true…I am the one who will decide whether to join a party”. This was seen as a snub to the state BJP unit which had talked about “imminent entry” of Rajini into its fold.

Though it is too early to talk about a Rajini-Haasan tie-up at this stage, there is every possibility that they may join hands on certain issues of joint interest. Both of them speak of working for the welfare of Tamil Nadu and Tamils, both want the Tamil population to be freed from the “yoke of Dravidian politics”. While the late MGR is their guiding spirit, both don’t have the political experience like the iconic leader before he broke ranks with the DMK and formed his own AIADMK. While MGR had someone like Jayalalithaa to carry forward his work, Haasan or Rajini have none. In the general elections, Haasan had to shoulder the burden of campaigning alone. Here too, he could make some mark only in urban areas, while Rajini’s fan following is basically rural. However, he is yet to put together a functioning organisation. Moreover, Rajini has to face the wrath of radical Dravidian politicians over his non-Tamil status and the question of his contribution to Tamil society so far. Still, in the event of the two coming together, their urban-rural base could pose a formidable threat to the traditional Dravidian parties. The political climate in Tamil Nadu is ideal for a new combination to take roots. The sway of Dravidian parties over the electorate is waning. DMK under M.K. Stalin may have successfully stalled the entry of BJP into Tamil Nadu in the general elections. But then the party could not repeat the same in the subsequent byelections in the state. Instead, a tottering AIADMK government got its lifeline, winning practically all the Assembly bypolls. Stalin’s electoral winnability is still very much under a cloud. He needs time to get into his father’s shoes.

On its part, AIADMK may have weathered the threat posed by party rebel and Sasikala’s, who is technically still the chairperson of the party, nephew Dinakaran for the time being. However, the party is still wobbling under an uncertain leadership of Edappadi Palaniswami. Jayalalithaa’s soul mate V.K. Sasikala will be out of jail anytime now, not a good omen for the current AIADMK leadership.  It is believed that Sasikala holds the key to all the wealth amassed by the late leader. Money plays a major role in today’s Tamil politics. If Sasikala opens her treasure trove, the AIADMK leaders will flock towards her like moths to a candle flame.

Tamil Nadu is sure heading for tumultuous days. Perhaps after MGR, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, Rajini and Haasan enjoy maximum popularity in Tamil Nadu. Whether they will be able to transform that into votes is a different question altogether. But politics is all about possibilities. Just as the title of their first film together, there is every possibility of Rare Melodies mingling together. Time will tell us.

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