The banners are placed one after the other, covering close to six kilometres on the stretch of a main road in Chennai’s Maduravoyal. Held up by wobbly wooden poles, they all carry the face of Superstar Rajinikanth who is set to attend a private event in the locality. Put up by the Maduravoyal Rajini forum, these banners are of all sizes and shapes.
The large banners are brazenly placed across footpaths, making it tough for pedestrians to make their way through the road.
You can neither miss the actor's smiling face on the multiple illegal hoardings nor the irony that this brings forth. As Rajinikanth inches closer to transforming into a full-fledged politician, it seems the violation of rules and apathy for public safety come as a package deal.
Even after the tragic death of 32-year-old techie Ragu in Coimbatore last year and others after him, it appears supporters of Rajinikanth have scant regard for public safety when it comes to proving their devotion to their leader.
In a clear violation of orders by the Madras High Court, digital banners in praise of actor turned politician Rajinikanth have cropped up all over the city.
In response to a letter written by social activist Traffic Ramaswamy over illegal digital banners across the city for PM Modi’s Chennai visit to commemorate former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s 70th birth anniversary, the Madras HC ordered the removal of all illegal digital banners with immediate effect.
Activist Traffic Ramaswamy who has fought against illegal hoardings for years told the media, “I will be visiting the area of Maduravoyal upto Valasaravakkam as thousands of Rajini banners have been erected at the expense of pedestrian life. If not removed, I will remove them,” he said.
Speaking to TNM, Jayaraman Venkatesan of Arappor Iyakkam says, “This is a violation of municipal law as well as contempt of court. But the police won't even file an FIR against these illegal banners. The Corporation also has to take action. It is very disappointing in the case of Rajinikanth. If he wants to create change in the system, he has to openly come tell his cadre that they shouldn't put up these banners. He has failed to do that. If they talking about creating change, they should make it clear that such illegal means should not be used to communicate with the people.”
Demanding an apology from the politician, Jayaraman says, “He must apologise for this whole thing and an FIR must be filed against all those people who have been involved in putting up these illegal banners.”
Activists, however, feel that the issue is happening very much in connivance with the Chennai police. Giving oral assurances before the Madras High Court on Monday, the Chennai corporation said that they had removed all illegal and unapproved hoardings and banners across the city.
While the actor had made tall claims about wanting to bring about people's governance, it appears his fans are falling into the familiar trap of personality cult politics of the state.