Despite actor Rajinikanth announcing he will not enter politics, many of his fans are taking part in a rally at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai, demanding the actor to keep his earlier promise.
On Sunday, thousands of Rajinikanth’s fans assembled as early as 7 am. His supporters demanded that the actor floats his political party as he promised, despite the actor expressing his inability to do so due on health grounds. According to reports, Rajini Makkal Mandram has issued a warning to all its members from attending such rallies. Earlier, Chennai police gave permission to fans to hold their demonstrations at Valluvar Kootam.
On December 29, Rajinikanth announced that he would not be participating in the forthcoming assembly elections. The Kollywood superstar in a long letter cited his health as the reason why he was not standing for election.
The actor was shooting for Director Siva’s next venture Annatthe in Hyderabad when a couple of the staff tested Covid positive. While the superstar had tested negative, he isolated himself and was under constant monitoring. The megastar was admitted at Apollo hospital in Hyderabad last Friday after his blood pressure showed severe fluctuations. He was discharged on Sunday. Doctors advised him to take complete bed rest for a week, maintain limited physical activity, avoid stress, and abstain from undertaking activities that would put him at risk of contracting Covid-19. The advisory was based on the superstar’s health history of being a post-transplant patient, having hypertension, and age.
In the letter announcing his decision to not step into politics, Rajinikanth said, “I see this health complication (hospitalisation) as a warning given to me by God.”
The actor began showing signs of political aspirations in 2017 when he urged fans to ‘prepare themselves for the war’ against a ‘rotten system’ in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.
Rajinikanth’s tentative step towards the political arena occurred after the death of Jayalalithaa. With Jayalalithaa’s death and DMK chief Karunanidhi’s failing health, there was a glaring vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics. In 2019, he did not stand for the Lok Sabha polls, however. The question of whether the actor would make his foray into politics was finally answered when on December 3, 2020, he tweeted that he would launch his political party in January 2021, five months before the Tamil Nadu election. He also said that he would announce the details of his party on December 31, 2020.
Soon after Rajinikanth decided to stay away from politics, his fans and followers are burning the star's effigies on the streets hoping that he will change his mind.
Tamilaruvi Maran, a former Congressman who was the star’s political advisor, also announced that he was exiting politics for good. “I will not participate in politics till death embraces me. When poet Kannadasan left DMK, he said he would come back. But I am leaving and will not return,” said Manian, who was appointed as the overseer of the party planned by Rajinikanth.
Meanwhile, both DMK and AIADMK parties are heaving a sigh of relief over the star’s announcement. A darling of the masses in Tamil Nadu, the DMK was worried that the actor would take a chunk of the votes that would have otherwise come to the party due to the anti-incumbency factor. On the other hand, the AIADMK will now be able to negotiate with allies, especially with BJP for a stronger position.
BJP, however, must be severely disappointed with the star’s announcement. The party has been hoping to piggy-back on the actor to breach into the Dravidian fort, which has been keeping the saffron party at arm’s length — the only Dravidian state to do so. BJP saw Rajinikanth as a suitable weapon in its battle against Periyar’s ideology that lies at the core of Dravidian politics. BJP had hoped that Rajinikanth’s promise to practice “spiritual politics” would bring in anti-DMK and Hindu votes into the fold: a factor the DMK feared.
And while they may deny suggestions that it was behind the star’s political plans, BJP party leaders welcomed the actor’s announcement to launch a political party on December 3 and believed that an alliance with Rajini's party would lay the groundwork for BJP's entry into Tamil Nadu. However, with Rajinikanth’s exit, it looks like the saffron party will have to stick with AIADMK and alliances that existed during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will more or less be the same.