Thalaivaaa… ” that full-throated, exultant cry of followers was synonymous with Rajinikanth’s first look in a specific movie. Lastly, that welcome for the ‘chief’ can now be prolonged to the political platform. For his quite a few followers and Tamil Nadu’s voters, Rajinikanth has raised expectations with the promise of a political plunge for lengthy. Now, his promised arrival on January 1 has launched a 3rd dimension into the state’s bipolar politics.
Each the ruling AIADMK, in energy for a decade, and a DMK determined to win, had been gunning for a direct struggle within the April 2021 elections. Rajini’s arrival has all of the sudden launched an unknown issue. The pandemic had given second ideas to Rajinikanth, a kidney transplant affected person, comforting the 2 Dravidian majors. Until Rajini determined to danger all of it—fame, political capital and his personal well being.
“Neither Palaniswami nor Stalin would be capable to match Rajinikanth’s charisma and the warmth he’s sure to generate. The electoral calculations these two events are so adept at may get neutralised by the distinctive chemistry that Rajini can set up with voters, particularly youth and ladies. He can be the X issue which may even compel Kamal Haasan to affix with him although the latter has had a political headstart,” observes political commentator Maalan.
The DMK is frightened that Dalits, who it had wooed by maintaining the Dalit get together VCK (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi) by its facet, may fall for Rajini, simply as they did when actor Vijayakanth had launched his get together in 2005. The probability of Stalin’s estranged elder brother M.Ok. Alagiri floating his personal get together and becoming a member of palms with Rajini is a possible headache too. If the battle turns one between Stalin and Rajini the DMK would want greater than the strategic inputs of Prashant Kishor. “His presence is a particular imponderable,” admits a DMK MLA.
The AIADMK is apprehensive that Rajini’s model of religious politics would dent its vote base of the temple-going trustworthy, particularly ladies. And his promise of a clear authorities hits on the weakest level of DMK and AIADMK—their tainted report whereas in energy. CM Palaniswami, who has received the interior battle with O. Panneerselvam, now has to rejig his strategy. “We may assault Stalin on dynastic politics and his get together’s failures whereas in energy however we’ve got nothing in opposition to Rajinikanth, barring his inexperience,” rues an AIADMK minister.
Nonetheless, solely charisma won’t be sufficient for the famous person. He wants an honest alliance too. Kamal’s MNM tops the listing, whereas smaller caste events would additionally line up. He additionally must woo necessary untainted leaders from each the DMKs to challenge a profitable look. The bodily problem can be robust for the 70-year-old. As he admitted just lately, a well being setback may derail the marketing campaign.
However Rajini, say sources, made up his thoughts, as retreating earlier than another election can be equated with cowardice. In early March he had flirted with the thought of main the get together and nominating another person because the CM candidate. It had disheartened his supporters. “Individuals would vote for Rajinikanth provided that he’s projected because the CM candidate. That might be seen as shying away from the struggle,” observes S. Ramesh of Thuglak journal and a confidant of the actor.
“If the target is to defeat the DMK there must be no break up within the anti-DMK votes which might occur provided that the AIADMK and Rajinikanth can come collectively,” suggests former Chennai Mayor Saidai S. Duraiswamy. However previous examples present that each time smaller events allied with a Dravidian main, they received diminished to nonentities. Rajini can be averse to that. Equally, he would keep away from the BJP, understanding that its Hindu votes would anyway migrate in direction of him.
The BJP may not push for an alliance. The get together is aware of that Rajini is just a one-election phenomenon. So, the votes he polls now may very well be inherited by the BJP as soon as he leaves the sector. Now, Amit Shah’s plan for 2026 makes extra sense.
By G.C. Shekhar in Chennai