Presidential Candidate or CM Elect, What Rajnikanth’s Entry into Politics May Mean for Tamil Politics

If not Tamil Nadu and Rajinikanth as its chief minister, there are also the crucial forthcoming presidential elections. If Modi’s BJP throws this gauntlet as Rajinikanth as President,  it would be extremely difficult for either the Congress or the regional parties of the South like AIADMK, DMK, JD(S) or K Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi, to oppose a glamorous non-controversial South Indian candidate like Rajinikanth for the post. 


“Naa eppo varuven eppadi varuven nu yarukum theriyathu
aana varavendiya tithula correct ah varuven”
(No one knows when and how I will enter. But I will enter at the right time)
The above lines are from the 1995 blockbuster of Rajinikanth named Muthu. Rajinikanth is the tallest global star from India whose popularity is not just limited to south and not even limited to the Indian subcontinent. He’s the most popular Indian star in Southeast Asia and also Japan. The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) under the leadership of Amit Shah[1] is making a furious attempt to enter the unconquered regions of East and South India.
Tamil Nadu, with 39 MPs, is electorally the biggest state in South India. In 2014, BJP garnered just a single[2] seat here regardless of the enormous Modi wave.
The greatest superstar of South Indian Cinema on May 15 suggested that that he may join politics. Meeting with his fans[3] in Chennai, hotshot Rajinikanth ended his hush in regards to the tremendously discussed issue of whether the superstar would join politics or not. For decades now, the land of Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR) and the latest lost icon, Jayalalitha, Rajinikanth's current articulations where he has clearly hinted that he could enter into the political arena if "god wills" has changed everything. For a state like Tamil Nadu where film stars and the silver screen have been projected onto the state’s political amphitheatre, the mere speculation of Rajinikanth’s entering politics is a sweet melody to the ears of the fans of the Thalaivar.
The Tamil cinema has, for the most part, focused on linguistic and cultural identity and Indian politics has additionally been worked on similar principles for a very long period.
"Whatever I had to say I said, now I have nothing more to say[4]," was the actor's response when he was asked recently about union minister Pon Radhakrishnan saying the BJP "welcomes" him. He did not however say “no”. The actor said that, while he had no political ambitions, but "If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow[5]. His remark is being seen as the stepping stone for setting up another career after his retirement from the movies. As far BJP's invitation is concerned "into politics or the party", Rajinikanth hasn't offered any comment yet.
The talk, possibility and hopes around Rajinikanth's entry into politics have assumed the form of an imaginary trailer –long time running! – of the ultimate, whimsical blockbuster in Tamil Nadu. First showing in 1995, it's been run for long years, teasing his fans but not tiring their interest. For the past 21 years, Rajini has kept the whole state in the will-he-won’t-he- mode. For some political analysts and fans, the most recent remarks signal his actual preparedness now, at this point. The only question before them is whether he will hold hands with the existing BJP or launch his own party. When the Congress held hands with Jayalalithaa in 1996, he supported the DMK[6] and had famously stated, “Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu[7] if AIADMK returns to power.” The DMK alliance went ahead and won those polls in a tsunami wave with Jayalalithaa losing her own seat and her party AIADMK securing just 4 seats in the 235-strong TN Assembly. It won’t be an exaggeration to state that it was Rajini who ensured Jayalalitha’s electoral rout with just a single statement.
The BJP desperately wants to gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu and the iconic actor is one easy way in. BJP, with its overt and obvious Hindi-Hindutva-Hindustan baggage has always been perceived as an organisation and outfit of Hindi-speakers and Brahmins and that's the reason it has so failed to find an echo and footing within the anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin Dravidian politics of the state. The party is now making a more than decent attempt to recast itself, however, it desperately needs a face in the state and only Rajinikanth has the capacity to saffronise Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth shares a personal kinship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In April 2014[8] just before the Lok Sabha election, Modi had approached Rajinikanth while campaigning in Chennai.
Former CM Jayalalitha has only left an inactive ailing Karunanidhi behind, which paves the way for superstar Rajini’s entry into politics as the most popular and importantly a clean face. On the off chance that Modi and Rajnikanth do finally hold hands, they would likely be seen as an invincible team. It seems feasible that the BJP would like to have the face and charm of Rajini, as well as Jayalalithaa to garner the maximum votes in the state. Rajinikanth has effectively communicated his regret of humiliating Jaya her in 1996, terming it as a "political accident"; this with the BJP clandestinely backing the AIADMK faction[9] driven by O Panneerselvam(OPS) that claims to be the genuine legacy custodian of Jaya, the formula of the BJP backed by the OPS faction backed by Rajinikanth appears to be the current calculation.
If not Tamil Nadu and Rajinikanth as its chief minister, there are also the crucial forthcoming presidential elections. If Modi’s BJP throws this gauntlet as Rajinikanth as President, , it would be extremely difficult for either the Congress or the regional parties of the South like AIADMK, DMK, JD(S) or K Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi, to oppose a glamorous non-controversial South Indian candidate like Rajinikanth for the post.  In the past, the Shiv Sena[10] has gone against the NDA and even supported UPA’s Pratibha Patil in the name of Marathi pride. Electorally, the BJP has also begun making inroads into the South. The party opened its account in Kerala[11] last year and has expanded its vote share from 6.3% to over 15%. The NDA will thus gain political capital for garnering Rajini as Indian President's seat and may, in this way, expect electoral gains for itself in the South, especially in Tamil Nadu for the 2019 general elections.
Rajinikanth’s popularity is beyond any other Indian politician today.
He commands the heights of adoration. He has seen fans queuing up for a few miles to have a glance of their superstar. His fans revere him like a God, purchase his film tickets en masse, and even urge him to join politics. Dissimilar to film stars of the past who have entered politics, Rajinikanth stands aloof and alone, even on questions of identity.
He is a Marathi by birth whose birth name is Shivaji Rao Gaekwad[12]. He hails from Karnataka and achieved stardom of epic proportions in Tamil Nadu.
“People keep saying I am not a Tamil,” Rajinikanth said. “Let me tell them that I spent only 23 years in Karnataka. The remaining 44, I have spent here. With their support, Tamil people have made me one of their own. I am a Pachai Tamizhan [pure Tamil]. If I am forced to leave this land, I will only head to Himalayas to be with the Yogis and not to any other state.[13]
However, given his Kannadiga roots, Rajini will be solicited to experience the ordeal of proving his Tamilian sub-patriotism each time that Karnataka turns the Cauvery tap. Rajinikanth has over 80,000 fan clubs[14] spread across Tamil Nadu, a number greater than the supporters of any political party in the state. This popularity that he commands can also be mis-used or mis-appropriated if he becomes a full-time politician. Though high on popularity, he lacks political ideology.
Rajinikanth strongest hint, so far on about his political debut, was dropped on May 27when he stated “The current political situation is such that the system does not think about the people. It does nothing for them. That has to change,[15]”. Maintaining that the political framework is "corrupt" and democracy is in a "rotten" state in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth also urged his fans to be prepared for "war" at the right time.
The Dravidian politics’ domination in Tamil Nadu and Rajinikanth’s over-emphasis on spirituality and religion, both on and off cinema, has led to current speculation over whether he might eventually seek refuge under Modi and the BJP.

There have also been speculations about Thalaivar launching his own party[16] which will then become an ally of the NDA II government. Then, his own party could be a milder version of a saffron outfit. Either which way, Rajinikanth’s entry will be a game changer for Tamil politics. Until any clear confirmation from the Thalaivar, we can only await his move with bated breath.




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