While the guessing game surrounding Rajinikanth's plunge into politics has heightened the post-Jayalalithaa anxiety levels in the AIADMK, it has sure increased the hopes of Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Tamil superstar kept aloof from political world for the last two decades after his famous call to throw out the corrupt Jayalalithaa government in 1996, which was also her first term. Encouraged by journalist-political activist Cho Ramaswamy, Rajinikanth's anti-AIADMK outburst had aided the DMK-Tamil Maanila Congress alliance.
When Jayalalithaa swept back to power in 2001, she had sent the message that she would not exact retribution against the Kollywood superstar. The actor too did not have the energy to take the risk, unlike action hero Vijayakanth, who went ahead to float his own party.
But Vijayakanth, aka Captain, as called by his fans, could not make the grade either on his own or in alliance. He had seat adjustment with Jayalalithaa in 2011 assembly elections and with Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but in 2016 assembly bypoll, DMK came a strong second behind AIADMK and Captain’s party became an irrelevant force.
After Jayalalithaa' death, her party has split and the Mannargudi coterie influence among the party workers has come down after Shashikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran were sent to jail. However, they still control the ruling faction from the jail, even though the party symbol is frozen. The political vacuum in AIADMK is tempting and it's only natural if the superstar thinks he can do well in the political arena.
Rajinikanth, like N.T. Rama Rao of undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1982, has invoked God for his political entry, saying if ‘Kadavul’ wants him to be a politician, he would some day become one. He has also said that if he were to enter politics, it would be to serve people and not for making money: means he aims to be a statesman, not a politician.
Although Rajini has asked his people to prepare for a battle, he has not confirmed whether he will lead the party. In his recent blockbuster movie Kabali, director Pa. Ranjith had made Rajinikanth make a statement that a discerning viewer wouldn’t miss. During a face-off with the villain, Kabali roars that there’s politics in Gandhi donning a veshti and Ambedkar wearing a three-piece suit. Rajinikanth as Kabali also awakens the political consciousness of Tamil-origin Malaysians.
If Rajinikanth decides to enter politics, he should fight 2019 Lok Sabha elections and then move for the big kill in 2021 assembly elections, following in the footsteps of M.G. Ramachandran.
Further, if he desires to have a new kind of politics, then he would bring freshers as candidates. If Rajinikanth joins an existing party, that will also alter the political dynamics of Tamil Nadu.
Now, all eyes are once again on Poes Garden, close to the fortress of Jayalalithaa, where Rajinikanth’s bungalow is situated.