Rajinikanth fans burn his effigies in hopes of bringing Thalaiva to politics

The actor had earlier released a statement announcing his adieu to politics; the actor cited Covid pandemic and health concerns
Rajinikanth fans burn his effigies in hopes of bringing Thalaiva to politics

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. On December 29, the actor, in a three-page statement, on Twitter, cited Covid-19 pandemic and his health condition as reasons for bidding adieu to politics even before taking the plunge. The announcement came a day after he was discharged from Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad after three days of treatment for fluctuating blood pressure. The actor, who was to announce his political course on December 31, apologised to his fans and members of the Rajini Makkal Mandram in the letter.

Tamilaruvi Maran, a former Congressman who was the star’s political advisor, announced today 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 DKM 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.

Rajinikanth, better known as thalaiva (leader) to millions of fans, is an enigma that can’t be decoded. Although he might lack the features of Greek Gods, his commanding screen presence: loud mannerisms, flamboyant swagger, punch-filled dialogues…have turned him into a superstar.

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.

The superstar, who had supported the DMK and Congress, publicly announced his intention to vote for BJP in 2004, although he did not campaign for it. During Modi’s Prime Ministerial candidature in 2014, Rajinikanth’s residence was his first pit stop in Tamil Nadu.

In 2019, he did not stand for the Lok Sabha polls. However, his contemporary Kamal Hassan launched his party Makkal Nidhi Maiyyam. While Rajinikanth did not announce a party, he did reveal that he will work for the people of Tamil Nadu and launched ‘rajamandram.org’ and a party logo last year. In a video message on the website, Rajinikanth appealed to his fans to register on the website to help him develop the state. On December 31, 2017, he announced his entry into politics and confirmed his intention to contest the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in 2021.

On November 30,2020, Rajinikanth met the office bearers of his Rajini Makkal Mandaram (RMM). After the meeting, the star urged his members to continue their efforts to strengthen the party and announced that he would state his final decision on taking the political plunge soon.

The will-he-won’t-he question on whether Rajini would make his foray into politics was finally answered in a tweet on December 3, 2020: announcing that he would launch his political party in January 2021, five months before the Tamil Nadu election. He said that he would clarify the details of his party on December 31, 2020. The actor did not, however, explain if he would contest the 2021 state elections. In his Tweet, he said, “In the forthcoming Assembly elections, with the support of the people, it is certain that honest, monetary, transparent, non-corrupt, secular and secular spiritual politics will emerge in Tamil Nadu.”

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