Is Rajini entering politics this time at least?

Is Rajini entering politics this time at least?

Much longer than the 34 years of Communist rule in West Bengal, the Dravidian party duo of DMK and AIADMK has ruled the southern state of Tamil Nadu, uninterruptedly since 1967.

Much longer than the 34 years of Communist rule in West Bengal, the Dravidian party duo of DMK and AIADMK has ruled the southern state of Tamil Nadu, uninterruptedly since 1967.

Unleashing a wave of linguistic chauvinism and peppering it with their own formula of rationalism in matters religious, the regional chieftains of the parties have lorded over the state, a testament to the inexhaustible patience of the electorate who have sworn off national parties for more than five decades now.

The state has however not remained insular, by and large. It has kept its date with many socio-political and socio-economic parameters in common with other regions of India and excelled in a few. What is indisputable is that it possesses a forbidding, enigmatic political environment for newcomers.

In this milieu, of course, one can understand that the homespun philosophy of Dravidianism, espoused by its founder E V Ramaswamy Naicker aka Periyar is a sensitive topic and a holy cow of sorts for the faithful and the not-so-faithful too.

There have been a few brushes with it by overeager politicians of other parties, only to have them retreat hastily once protests took them head on from all over.

Hence, when Rajinikanth confronted them this time in an address during a Tamil magazine's golden jubilee function, the antagonists expected the usual backtracking. After all, the matinee idol had dared to allege that the mother party, Dravida Kazhagam had shown utmost disrespect to Hindu gods (Lord Rama and Sita), parading them in naked form, abusing their images and beating them with slippers, in a rally conducted during a rationalist conference held in Salem.

Worse, the leader of the party, Periyar, himself was part of the procession, the reports had mentioned.

Yet for once, true to his superstar image which has sustained him for more than four decades in Tamil cinema, the 70-year-old refused to blink. Taking refuge under the press reports of the incident when it occurred in 1971 and also a reference made to it in an English newsmagazine in November 2017, Rajini said there was no question of apology, as he had not said anything erroneous.

The post-Pongal entertainment in Tamil media is just this issue and nothing else. Both the English and Tamil press have delved deep into their archives and the digital channels are spewing all kinds of historical information about a highly controversial procession that took place, nearly five decades ago.

The heartening thing is that the incident as quoted by the Superstar had indeed taken place, with the reports specifically mentioning graphic details about it.

The social media is full of memes and trolls, depending on which side of the argument the creator is. The political party leaders of the Dravidian variety have been cautious in reacting to it, even as the police have foiled all attempts to intimidate the star in any manner. The DMK, with Stalin at the helm came up with an ambivalent comment that "Rajini is not a politician, but a mere film star".

One such troll in which Rajini is seen featured with Kamal Hassan, his contemporary and likely political rival is interesting. It shows the exasperated star asking his counterpart as to why he gets into trouble when he opens his mouth, while the latter gets away with all kinds of controversial comments.

In reply, the troll quotes Kamal as saying 'when you speak people understand because you shoot straight. Try my technique of confusing the audience, there will be no problem'! For all one knows, Kamal may be right.

All those who are keen to see whether this would be Rajini's final leap into the murky world of politics would have to wait a few months longer. Elections are due in the state in summer of 2021, a good year and more from now. Having made the anxious fans wait during the last Lok Sabha polls of 2019, this time around Chennai media seems to be speculating that Rajini has landed his first blow on the Dravidian adversaries.

The theory being propounded is that if the hero has to make a solid impression, he has to steer clear of the existing political formations and stick to his brand of 'spiritual politics' which has confirmed that he is still being considered a potential candidate by BJP.

With an equally maverick kind of a neta in the form of Pawan Kalyan having joined hands with the saffron party officially a few days ago in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, one can legitimately conclude that these two states, the weakest links of BJP's national-level outreach is being wooed once again.

While Pawan Kalyan stayed in his political role, despite his Jana Sena's crushing defeat a few months ago, it is still unclear whether Rajini will bite the bullet and proceed ahead without his flip-flop attitude having been a trademark for nearly 25 years now.

With his latest New Year release 'Darbar' just about making the cut as far as collections are concerned, receiving mixed reviews from all over, Rajinikanth is staring at the end of his cinematic career for sure. Yes, he has a couple of projects in the pipeline but 2021 will be the final bell to toll for kickstarting his netagiri, as his herogiri is on the wane.

For support, he has the fledgling BJP leaders of the state and cheerleaders who keep egging him on in the digital media predominantly. With no clear signal emerging from Delhi whether he is going to be their man for the occasion as yet, Rajinikanth has once again brought the spotlight on himself whether he is going to don the political colours or be content with greasepaint as a filmi icon.

Already, there have been reports circulating that he has a shadow political outfit ready with a command and control structure awaiting the final go-ahead. Fans aver that he has not been quiet but working behind the screen to launch himself for sure in the forthcoming polls. In this surcharged atmosphere, the public is yet to get the clear signal – will he, won't he? Watch this space.

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