Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has made it clear. He is joining politics and ready to face the assembly polls due in 2021 in the state where he is almost a cult. Then what about the Lok Sabha elections in 2019? He said he'll take a call on whether to contest it or not at an appropriate time.
Rajini's reasons to join the game of thrones is fair and just, provided the absurd political drama that was being played out in his state in the past few months, especially after the death of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Fed up with the unprecedented games of realpolitik that has made the state a laughing stock, the actor rightly said "democracy is in bad shape". He wants his fans to be the protectors of democracy as well. That's loud and clear. But what leaves one baffled is the ideological position that he takes.
He says he would usher in days of a “spiritual politics”. As far as a layman is concerned, it's only a combination of two words that are vague and incomprehensible. And the two words seem to be too difficult to go together.
Rajinikanth apparently tries to explain it saying his party's philosophy will be Truth, Work and Growth. He added that his politics will be free from caste and creed. But haven't you heard it before? You hear such rhetorics every time a politico addresses you.
Rajinikanth is known for his spiritual leanings, and his solitary sabbaticals to the Himalayas have made headlines. But more than that, his political leanings towards the BJP-led NDA has also been stuff for news. He also seems to enjoy a personal rapport with prime minister Narendra Modi.
And, this is what makes some political observers worried over the superstar's political plunge. There are people who presume that Rajini's political entry would be helpful to the BJP, which is trying hard to make inroads into the Tamil land. But such a scenario occurs only if the actor chooses to align with the saffron outfit.
Rajini's call for the kind of politics beyond religion and creed is also viewed as an antithesis against the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu that has kept national parties at bay for decades. Tamil Nadu has often been accused of falling to star clout in power. But it is also true that no star has been able to wield their clout above the Tamil pride that was groomed by the Dravidian parties that were based on the grounds of rational thought. Rajini for sure won't be able to grow beyond it despite the superhuman prowess of his characters that have set cinemas on fire. It seems to be a distant dream to go or grow beyond the Dravidian sense of identity and instill a sense of spirituality that is all-encompassing. Spirituality, even if you present it as populist as possible, is something unlikely to capture the imagination of the poor and the downtrodden whose only concern would be to make both ends meet.
It might be better to limit our understanding of 'spiritual politics' as a way of politics based on ethics and morality to comprehend Rajini's ideas, until he comes up with clarity or shows us what he means. Be it left, right or center (and it seems to be a right-leaning center in case of the superstar), Rajini must be aiming a clean administration and zero-tolerance towards corruption. But he would be able to achieve it only with clear and pragmatic policies. By the end of the day it's only the policies that set an outfit or the government in motion. Not any lofty ideal, even if it's as sublime a concept as spirituality.