Will he or won’t he is the million dollar question in the minds of common man in Tamil Nadu on prospects of ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth taking the political plunge. With stalwarts like late Jayalalithaa and ailing Nonagenarian DMK supremo M Karunanidhi out of the picture in the current dispensation, Rajinikanth’s fans believe he is the only one who can effectively fill the political vacuum. Rajinikanth’s latest ambivalent statements on the possibility of his political entry has triggered a buzz in various circles, though this is not for the first time.
Such a hysteria was witnessed even in 1996 when he openly defied Jayalalithaa, asking people not to vote for her.
The then hustings saw ‘Amma’ losing the assembly elections and the DMK-TMC registering a landslide victory. Having had his run-ins with the powers that be in the past, the actor has come a long way from his first outburst in 1996 when he said “even God can’t save Tamil Nadu” if AIADMK was elected again.
In the ensuing political developments, he backed the DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress, led by the late G K Moopanar) combine, which also cashed in on the severe anti-incumbency against the ruling AIADMK. However, the combine could not keep the momentum on as AIADMK staged a good comeback in the 1998 Parliamentary polls. In the meantime, the actor continued to give some hints of a political entry in his ‘Baba’ (2002), which also saw Dr S Ramadoss-founded PMK go up in arms against his on screen smoking.
In the film, dealing with the protagonist’s transformation from a carefree atheist to a believer, the plot details the actor’s brush with a wily politician. In the film, Rajinikanth bats for a particular clean politician but soon after the man is killed, the actor is shown approaching the people, hinting he would lead them. The film also enraged Ramadoss,who accused Rajinikanth of misleading the youth with his unique cigarette flinching style, among other gimmicks.
However, whenever his fans have been vocal or proactive about his political plunge, the actor has either remained silent or distanced himself away from the topic. Twice his supporters and actors have come out in the open floating some ‘party’ or ‘outfit’ in a bid to pressure Rajini, as he is fondly called, to enter politics . It is not uncommon for his fans across the state to frequently put up posters urging him to come and ‘lead’ and ‘save’ Tamil Nadu.
Even party flags had been launched by some fans in the past, but the actor had either remained silent or distanced himself away from fans who resorted to such actions. Many political parties, barring AIADMK, had been wooing him. However, he was on good terms with Jayalalithaa in the recent past and had even rued he had ‘hurt’ her back in 1996 by being critical of her.
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In his latest comments, Rajinikanth had said he had no desire to joins politics, but if he did, he would show the door to all “money-minded” people. He was often dragged into political debates despite stressing that he was “neither an influential political leader nor a social activist.” “My name has been dragged into politics for the past two decades. I am pushed to clarify during every election that I’m not affiliated to any political party,” he had said early this week.
Incidentally, in his film ‘Muthu’ (1995), he mouthed lyrics in a song saying “why should I launch a party now, (but) its only time will tell that.” Tamil cinema has always had close links with politics, with matinee idols, the late MG Ramachandran (MGR) and J Jayalalithaa, besides script writer M Karunanidhi, having gone to rule the state. Ramachandran, in particular, was seen as one converting his huge popularity into a springboard for his political launch, which was as successful as his cinema career.
Rajini fans are eagerly waiting to see if their ‘Thalaivar’ (Leader) will do an encore like MGR. Meanwhile, the Bhartiya Janata Party, whose top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi are said to enjoy good relations with the ‘superstar’, has welcomed the idea of the actor joining their fold. “We welcome if he comes to politics. We will also welcome if he comes (joins) to BJP,” state BJP leader and Union Minister of state Pon Radhakrishnan said recently.Incidentally, Modi met Rajinikant at his Poes Garden residence in 2014 when he visited Chennai.