Superstar Rajinikanth has found himself in the eye of a storm following his comments in Thoothukudi where he criticised anti-social elements among protesters for the violence that led to the death of 13 people last week. Members of the anti-Sterlite agitation and opposition parties raged against the actor's allegations of 'anti-social elements' entering the protests and his decision to visit the district over a week after the clashes.
But the actor turned politician has received support from an unlikely quarter - the ruling government. In its mouthpiece, 'Nammadhu Amma', the ruling party has welcomed the actor's statements in Thoothukudi and hailed him for expressing his views candidly.
Rajinikanth emphasised on Wednesday, the need to save the industrial climate of the state, which he claims will go through a lean patch if protests continue. He pointed out that protests were not the solution to every problem and that the violence that was displayed in the Thoothukudi protest was the doing of 'anti-social elements' and 'toxic germs'. The actor turned politician said that such elements have increased in Tamil Nadu and even cited violence during the jallikattu protests as an example. He further went on to praise former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for keeping such 'toxic germs' under control.
When asked why he did not demand for the resignation of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, he said that his stepping down will not solve the problem at hand.
And while his statement has earned the ire of those who protested for over 100 days to demand for the closure of the Copper smelter, the AIADMK has termed his speech as heartfelt.
"He has praised the government for keeping these 'poisonous germs' under control. He also acknowledged that Puratchi Thalaivi Amma saw both sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and Sankaracharya as the same before the law," says the column titled 'Kalikal Ozhippum, Kabaliyin Vazthum' (The eradication of Kali, praise of Kabali).
What seemed to irk those who witnessed Rajinikanth's address, was the fact that it echoed what the ruling government has been saying.
The column in Nammadhu Amma acknowledged that Rajinikanth's views on anti social elements entering the protest were in line with what Edappadi Palaniswami has been saying.
The author has further used this opportunity to blame DMK legislator Geetha Jeevan for the protests taking a violent turn on the 100th day. The mouthpiece claims Rajini's statement that the CM resigning is not a solution, comes as a slap on the forehead for power-hungry people, opposition hardliners and communists.
This endorsement from the AIADMK for the actor comes even as the DMK went all guns blazing against him
"I doubt that is it his own voice. What he said is the words of the BJP and AIADMK. So, I suspect is their voice," said DMK working President MK Stalin to the media.
"Whatever it may be, he is a super star, he himself has said he knows it is terrorists who indulged in violence. Since he said he knows who they are, he should let this nation know. If he reveals it, it will be good for the nation. Let us wait and see if he ( Rajinikanth ) reveals that or not," he added sarcastically.
When asked about the actor's views on the agitation, Stalin said, "Life is a protest and without protest nothing can be achieved. It may be a protest against Hindi or for Freedom or for jallikattu - after protest only it has been solved. I think he ( Rajinikanth ) knows this."