As Tamil Nadu started exercising the democratic duty to elect its 16th Assembly, Kollywood actors Rajinikanth, Ajith and Vijay were among the early voters. Ajith who was accompanied by his wife, Shalini, arrived at their designated polling booth before the booth opens at 7 am.
Superstar Rajinikanth refrained from addressing the media after he cast his vote, wisely choosing not to endorse any political party. The actor’s statement ahead of the 1996 polls against the then Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa is said to have helped the DMK-TMC alliance win the Assembly election.
During the 2011 Assembly Elections, the actor’s privacy was breached at the polling booth when a video camera caught him pushing the two leaves button. The video, which was broadcast on a news channel, was subsequently withdrawn after the Election Commission warned of action against the videographer and the broadcaster. At the time, Rajinikanth had told the media, "The price rise is an issue and we want a stable government. This election is crucial and very tough."
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi had visited the actor at his residence in Chennai. The question of whether Rajinikanth would make his foray into politics was answered when the actor in December 2020, tweeted that he would launch his political party in January 2021. The actor-turned-politician who was set to make an important announcement regarding the launch of his political party on December 31, 2020, made a U-turn on December 29, however, when he announced he would not be joining politics.
The superstar took to Twitter and announced that he will not start his political party, due to his health condition. His decision came as a blow to the saffron party as the superstar’s ideology is closely aligned with the BJP. According to political analysts, the saffron party were hoping to piggy back on the actor’s success and were hoping to use him as a stepping stone for entry into Tamil Nadu.
Actor Vijay rode a bicycle to cast his vote in a polling booth in Neelankarai, Chennai. While theories about why he chose to cycle to the booth flood social media, a top theory is that it is an act of protest against the rising prices of diesel and petrol.
Meanwhile, VK Sasikala, a close aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa could not cast her ballot as her name has been deleted from the voter’s list. Her sister-in-law J Illavarasi’s name is also not on the voter’s list. Along with their votes, 19 names, which were in the list from J Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden address, have been deleted from the rolls, after the process of converting Poes Garden residence into a memorial was initiated. While Illavarasi’s son Vivek Jayaraman was able to enrol in in another residential address, Sasikala and Illavarasi were not able to as they were in prison. Although Sasikala’s counsel, Raja Senthur Pandian, approached the Election Commission, immediately after Sasikala was released from the prison, the commission had completed the process of addition or deletion in the electoral rolls.
Thousand Lights AMMK candidate N Vaidhyanathan claims that the deletion was purposely done on the advice of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. “She made him the chief minister. This is betrayal. The [Chennai] corporation or the Election Commission alone cannot be held responsible,” he said.
Sasikala was convicted and sentenced to a four year jail term in Bengaluru in connection with a Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case. Although there were speculations on her stepping back into politics after her jail term early this year, she had instead announced that she would stay away from active politics, while stressing the need for the continuance of the golden rule of Jayalalithaa.
Video courtesy: Telugu Film Producers Council