This time is different.
Superstar Rajinikanth’s verbal cues and actions over the course of the last week speak volumes of his desire to take the political plunge. The moments of doubt appear to have ebbed, the vacillation has made way for clarity in thought. “We will come back when it’s time for war,” he thundered on Friday, in no uncertain terms.
People close to the actor have told The News Minute that Rajinikanth will definitely enter politics and will be a part of the political landscape in Tamil Nadu ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After all, if not now, when?
Former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s demise last December and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi keeping away from public life, owing to his poor health, has created a political vacuum in the state. It’s carpe diem for Rajini, who has been signalling his political entry for over two decades.
His choice of vehicle, however, remains to be seen. Would the superstar bring together the strength of his fan clubs, which by some estimates count to at least 50,000, to form his own political party?
Or would Rajini choose to align himself with the BJP, his natural ideological ally? He has, after all, endorsed the saffron party in the past. In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi came calling to the actor’s Poes Garden residence in Chennai. The timing of the photo opportunity may have been dismissed by Rajinikanth, but it was a clear attempt at giving the BJP a leg-up in the Dravidian state ahead of the polls.
Prior to this, the superstar has publicly pledged his support for the BJP-AIADMK alliance in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. His decision to cast his vote for the Vajpayee-led NDA was based on the promise of interlinking of India’s rivers to solve the drinking water crisis.
Significantly, the BJP has already welcomed Rajini into their fold after the actor said he would never let money-minded people near him, if he enters the political arena.
As Rajini and his supporters prepare for war in the days to come, political manoeuvring has already commenced in Tamil Nadu. Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is expected to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday. Termed the ‘B-Team’ of the BJP by its opponents, does the ex-CM have something up his sleeve, even as merger talks between the warring factions of the AIADMK remain a non-starter?
And while Rajini’s latest statement may have left fans and the media with more questions than answers, what is unquestionable is that the superstar has definitely marked his entry onto the political stage.