A week after superstar Rajinikanth announced his political ambitions without uncertainty, it seems that the DMK has begun to feel the tremors of his decision, and has begun to counter it. The party, which chose to adopt a diplomatic and unconcerned attitude following the actor's decision to bring 'spiritual politics' to the state, now seems to be gearing up to counter his influence.
A full page in DMK's party organ Murosali was dedicated to explaining the political rise and fall of popular Telugu actor Chiranjeevi in Andhra Pradesh. While there is no direct mention of Rajinikanth, the article has enough hints on the alleged reality that stars face in politics. The article concluded that Chiranjeevi's loss in the election has become a lesson for many in political history. If not Rajinikanth’s decision, what else could have made the mouthpiece recall the fate of Chiranjeevi’s party that was launched a decade back?
"They are drawing a parallel to history when there is relevance now," comments political analyst Gnani. "DMK as a party is reacting to this political development of Rajinikanth entering politics," he adds.
That is not all. The party is even planning to further shift focus from the superstar's presence in the political battlefield to its own activities.
Two sources in the DMK have confirmed to TNM that they are, under the leadership of MK Stalin, planning to hold a manadu or rally in the coming days, in an attempt to grab people’s attention following Rajini’s high-voltage entry into politics. The possibility of holding a massive political meeting was discussed in the DMK District Secretaries meeting over the past couple of days, and is likely to be announced either in the MLA’s meeting at Anna Arivalayam on Sunday evening or the next week.
DMK insiders say that even though MK Stalin and his circle are yet to see Rajinikanth's entry as a major challenge to them, they are strategizing on how to deal with him in the appropriate manner. The internal thinking in the party is to not take him head-on and make him a larger political force. Yet, they are ensuring he is kept in check. For instance, a DMK insider said that when Rajinikanth came to meet M Karunanidhi, there were several in the leadership who did not want him to be visiting the patriarch. Even though Stalin eventually allowed it to happen, it was ensured that he did not speak to the media at Gopalapuram residence and had to leave immediately after meeting the party president.
On the outset however, the DMK maintains that there are no jitters within the party.
“The Manadu is anyway due, we hold one every 5 years. We would have wanted to hold it in 2019, but things being the way they are in Tamil Nadu, it does make sense now. But there is no official word or decision on this yet,” says DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram.
“The entire 100-year socio-political legacy of the Dravidian movement has defined the politics of Tamil Nadu. In the past 50 years, only DMK and AIADMK have been able to form government. What it says that even though democracy offers people of all political thoughts to enter politics, people of the state only want leaders who adhere to the Dravidian ideologies. Any I don’t think any person or political, at the moment can cause any sort of jitters to the DMK. People are committed to the ideology. Whoever comes, at best, can offer a course correction. They cannot make people discard Dravidian politics,” he adds.
He also recollects that alternatives offered to Dravidianism in Tamil Nadu have never succeeded.
“Every five years or so there is a narrative pushed to have politics as an alternative to Dravidian politics. This narrative is not new, so I don’t agree that there is any vacuum for any ideology to push out Dravidianism,” Manu adds. “Perhaps Murasoli’s effort is to try and tell people that very few stars have been successful in politics, that does not mean DMK is in jitters,” Manu says.