Even as Tamil superstar Rajinikanth considers taking the political plunge, farmers from Tamil Nadu on Sunday reminded the actor of the promise he had made fifteen years ago. Representatives of the National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association, led by its President P Iyyakannu met Rajinikanth at his Poes Gardens residence in Chennai on Sunday and reminded him of his promise to donate Rs1 crore towards the interlinking of rivers.
In 2002, Rajinikanth had announced that he would donate the money, amidst a heated Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. He had sat on a hunger strike in Chennai demanding the state's share of the Cauvery water. But following that, there was reportedly no payment made. Farmers on Sunday requested that the actor hand over the money to the Prime Minister, so as to kickstart the project to interlink rivers.
"The superstar told us that he will directly hand over the money to us but we said no," says Iyyakannu, who spoke to TNM after the visit. "We told him that he should give it to the Centre in order to boost the demand for interlinking of rivers. If somebody of Rajinikanth's stature insists on interlinking, it would definitely help the cause," he adds.
A group of 15 farmer went to the Superstar's residence at around 10.45am. The meeting lasted for over 30 minutes. Of the 15, only five representatives were allowed to meet the actor.
"We are confident that the superstar will help us. He even spoke to us about the protests that we held in the capital. He asked how we managed in an alien city," says Iyyakannu. "He knew about all the forms of agitation we had undertaken," he adds.
The National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association along with farmer groups across India, plans to begin touring 29 states on July 6. They aim to understand the problems of farmers in different regions and to hold a nationwide protest.
In what many see as his biggest hint that he could join politics in Tamil Nadu, Rajini had on May 19 told his fans that the political system is corrupt but urged his fans to come back “when it’s time for war”. He also went on to declare that he is a “Pachchai Tamizhan”, stating: “I am always asked if I am Tamizhan. I am 66 years old. I lived for 22 years in Karnataka and for 44 years in Tamil Nadu. I may have come here as a Marathi or Kannadiga. But you all gave me love, respect and fame. You made me a Tamizhan. I am a pachchai Tamizhan.”