By Devika Bedi
Tamilian actor and nationwide superstar, Rajinikanth, has decided to plunge into the politics. He made the announcement of his entry and a promise to form a new party on New Year’s Eve. His party will be launched after the state assembly elections and at an ‘appropriate time’ with the slogan of truthfulness, growth and hard work.
Just a day after the announcement, the superstar launched a mobile application available on Google Play store through which members can register themselves in his political party. He has also launched a website seeking members from across the nation. Just after launching the website named rajinimandaram.org, he aired a video addressing the potential members. “We have to bring under one umbrella all my registered fan club members, unregistered fan club members, and those who are looking to bring a change in Tamil Nadu’s politics.” Another message on the website read that the actor-turned-politician wants to bring positive change in the legislature of Tamil Nadu politics by mobilising people through information exchange.
Tamil Nadu’s politics now
The fresh leader has given more than 175 blockbuster films, mostly in Tamil and Telugu languages. After a huge vacuum which has been created in Tamil Nadu post-Jayaram Jayalalithaa’s demise, many new faces are appearing in the state political scene. In recent developments, Rajinikanth has announced that he will contest all 234 seats in the 2019 Assembly elections. He was reported saying “My decision is the need of the hour. Time has forced me into this. I will start my own party in the upcoming elections.”
A wise decision?
There have been mixed opinions about the fate and state of Tamil Nadu politics after the 67-year-old’s entry. His decision to start a politics, that is not on the basis of caste or religion but on ‘spiritual’ grounds, has been under special consideration. Many political observers predict his defeat saying that he lacks any political ideology. “What ideology does he have? Is he a nationalist or a Dravidian? While he could sway certain votes, he is untested in elections. He is definitely not politician material,” said Ramu Manivannan, head, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras.
On the other hand, many are excited to see the turn of events in Tamil Nadu on seeing popular faces like Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth join the run. Writer Stalin Rajangam said, “His major advantage is that he is extremely popular and he doesn’t belong to a dominant Tamil backward caste. He is also a devout Hindu. With these ‘identities’, he can appeal to a significant number of non-Tamil voters who are feeling insecure..”
Many of his fans are not first-time voters and may already be in support of some other political party. To attract them would require something out of the box. Due to BJP’s unpopularity in the state, he must not take the risk of pairing with them or showing any association. The new generation would largely go by the dominant sentiment on the social media. Rajinikanth would have to tap strategic measures to strike a balance between the pragmatic and conservative.
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