Over 200 people from across Tamil Nadu gathered at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam on Sunday, following the announcement of a meeting for District Presidents and secretaries of the Rajinikanth fan club. Organisers had made the restricted entry for the meeting clear but that did not stop fans from milling around the gates, hoping to catch a glimpse of the superstar.
As they stood in the blazing sun at West Mambalam in Chennai, their motive was solely to see the actor. But their message to their Thalaivar was loud and clear - It is time for superstar Rajinikanth to join politics.
The Rajinikanth fan club's general secretary Sathyanarayanan had convened the meeting which was attended by 62 representatives from across the state. The meeting was held in order to discuss the logistics for the photo sessions to be held from April 12 to 17. The superstar will be meeting members of his fan club and posing for photographs with them. According to the general secretary, the event was being organised for the fans to meet the actor, as they have been requesting for an opportunity for the last eight years. Organisers, however, denied any political motive behind this 'sudden' decision.
Calls for Rajini to enter politics echo yet again
The actor's fans, who began assembling outside the venue from 6am on Sunday, however, were convinced that the upcoming meet will lead to crucial decisions. Amongst them was K Vijayabhaskaran, a resident of Vellore. "Five of us left Vellore at 3am today and arrived here by 6am. We were hoping that we will get a chance to meet him and discuss the political vacuum in the state right now. The RK Nagar bye-elections are around the corner and there is no deserving candidate. Everyone is expecting Rajinikanth to convey his wish to enter politics when he meets his fans," he said
The crowds gathered in West Mambalam, consisted of fans from all ages and from various districts. Men and women from Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tiruppur who were all waiting to see the actor, refused to leave despite being told that he will not be arriving. The fans who were allowed into the mandapam's premises at close to 9.30am were instructed to not create a ruckus because entry into the meeting was restricted and advised to disperse. At 10am they were forced back to the road and told to wait for the meeting after April 12.
53-year-old Gopi Kannan, who was part of the delegation from Madurai claimed that a meeting with the actor was the need of the hour. "They are saying he will not come now. But we are willing to wait and see. As far as the meeting from April 12 is concerned, we are all going to demand that he start a party. That is the only solution in this political scenario. All he has to do is take a decision, we will take care of the rest of it. We will all put in our best to make him win," he claims.
Some other fans, however, remained sceptical of any decisive action. "We have seen him give hints and then back out several times. There is no point doing that. People will lose confidence in him," says Rangakannan, a member of the Tirunelveli fan club. "We will be happy if he decides to take the plunge, that is what we all want," he adds.
Dismay and disappointment
But even as calls for Rajinikanth to become actively engaged in politics grew amidst the crowd, a section of the fans expressed their dismay over being unable to meet the actor. Members of the Rajini fan club sat outside the mandapam, in protest over not being allowed to take part in the meeting. "Do these District Presidents and secretaries go out and do work for the superstar before movies? We grassroot workers are the ones who leave behind all our livelihood to promote the superstar's movies," says Rajini Goudh, a fan present at the venue. "Why allow only two people inside. I am also part of the fan club, do I not deserve to be a part of the meeting? We blame the general secretary Sathyanarayanan for this poor organisation," he added.
While police dispersed the crowd that was sitting in protest, 47-year-old Ganga, a handicapped fan, told The News Minute, "I came from Chrompet in the hope of seeing the actor. It has been a very long since he met us and we have waited for years for the opportunity." he claims.
The police cleared fans and the media from the front gate, even as the District heads, who were part of the meeting streamed out. Samaraj, the District secretary of the Erode fan club revealed to The News Minute that 150 members from each district will be allowed to meet the actor and group photographs will be taken. "There was nothing political that was discussed. It is merely a programme to interact with fans," he says.
The fans who were listening to this, however, were not convinced. "We will just be pushed into a crowd around the superstar for ten seconds. This is not how we should be treated," several claimed, before walking away in dismay.