If one goes by the timing of the announcement, then there is no room for doubt that Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajinikanth has accomplished his political graduation with dexterity. The situation in Tamil Nadu is just about right for his entry in that there is a vacuum that needs to be filled. On that count, the charismatic actor makes for a hugely bankable alternative considering that AIADMK has been orphaned since the demise of J Jayalalithaa, M Karunanidhi is almost retired and MK Stalin cannot hope to win a popular mandate on his own.
If AIADMK factions hope to cash in on any sympathy wave, then they can as well forget nursing such dreams, because the RK Nagar bypoll verdict has effectively stymied any such possibilities and pretensions. In his own street-smart way, TTV Dinakaran has emerged as the ace in the Tamil Nadu political pack. Rajinikanth enjoys a stupendous following and that should work to his advantage when he seeks votes two years down the line. The consolidation should begin straightaway.
However, he should have the erudition to understand that although in individual-centric Tamil Nadu he has the edge among those eyeing the pie, he is a rank outsider when it comes to playing dirty, a trait that helped the two Dravidian parties to hold sway for decades together. None can vouch for this unique pattern as knowledgeably as the Congress, which had to play second fiddle and ride piggyback with the party in power.
His political managers should show the right path and not ‘righteous,’ which is something the actor has been drumming since his announcement. Promising a ‘cleansed’ society is nothing short of living in a Utopian world. Rajini will soon find that surviving the rough and tumble of the peculiar Tamil Nadu politics is no small act. The fact is that he cannot even be classified as a political novice.
An actor who learnt the absurdness of political mayhem where one’s status makes for no preferential treatment once the honeymoon period is done with is Amitabh Bachchan, who quit the ‘cesspool’ in utter disgust. Ironically, he paid the price for rubbing his own Congress stalwarts, and not any opponents, the wrong way. It is ditto with Chiranjeevi and Vijayakanth, who were not exactly political heroes for all their superstardom.
Rajinikanth (or even Kamal Hassan) should not get carried away by the turnout at meetings. Very resourceful during electioneering, they will be irrelevant on the poll day. MGR, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa had their political baptism and learnt the tricks of the trade under illustrious gurus; NTR rode to power as there was no alternative to Congress while actors like Sunil Dutt and Shatrughan Sinha, and to a miniscule extent Vinod Khanna, were involved in party work.
Rajinikanth has nothing like that in his resume except a ‘clean’ image that cannot help him survive even if he comes to power. Rajini would do well if he reads into what his role-model Shotgun Sinha remarked a few years back – I am afraid this humble man will be a complete misfit in politics. Nothing could be more appropriate.