Rajinikanth May Make Political Entry Announcement On His 67th Birthday

CHENNAI: After Kamal Haasan, it could be the turn of Rajinikanth to announce his political plunge. Rajini is likely to reveal his political entry on December 12, his birthday, said sources close to the actor.

“Rajini would form a separate party. He will not join any other party, including the BJP,” said the source. If the BJP is keen on roping Rajini into its fold, either as its member or an ally, before the Lok Sabha election, Rajini would preserve his energy for the assembly election, which he wants to be a Stalin vs Rajini fight, said the source. Kamal, on the other hand, is working towards building up base from the grassroots level.

“Being spiritual, Rajini cannot be a Leftist. Not being a hardliner, he cannot be a Rightist too. He will be a centrist as that alone will attract all sections of society,” said the source, a confidant of the actor. Of late, he has been dabbling in dalit uprising themes in his movies. His last film ‘Kabali’ had such an undertone and the next ‘Kaala’ will not be different either.

However, Rajini is unlikely to be involved in caste-centric politics in Tamil Nadu, when he has the advantage of an outsider, said writer Stalin Rajangam. “People like his subaltern style and identity. In movies, Rajini is just playing the roles that his directors give him. Ranjith is a known dalit activist and his movies are bound to have undertones of dalit resurgence. ‘Kabali’ was a reaction to the 2012 Dharmapuri caste clashes. They do not reflect Rajini’s political thoughts or plans,” said Rajangam.

Both Kamal and Rajini will compete for the neutral votes of people who look for a change beyond the AIADMK and the DMK. “As on date, the DMK looks all set to wrest power in the state as there is no strong rival. Rajini’s entry will change that dynamics,” said Rajangam. “Apart from neutral voters, Kamal would try to eat into the anti-Hindu rationalist base, which may give hiccups to the DMK,” said analyst M Kasinathan. Rajini’s disadvantage is that the minorities would see him as BJP’s tool, said Kasinathan.

Rajini has influenced only one election, the 1996 general elections to the Lok Sabha and the assembly, in Tamil Nadu. In 1998, despite Rajini’s support, the DMK-TMC front fared poorly in the LS polls. Again in 2004, Rajini’s support could not salvage the AIADMK-BJP combine.

On his own, Rajini may not win an election. His success will depend on stitching together a winnable alliance, but that remains a big challenge. With chief ministerial aspirations, he cannot go with the DMK. He may go with the AIADMK and the BJP, but for that both CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam will have to forgo their aspirations. Rajini would end up carrying the baggage of the present government’s public image.

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