Since the beginning of the Dravidian movement, politics and cinema in Tamil Nadu have had a symbiotic relationship. On New Year’s Eve, superstar actor Rajinikanth, in the presence of thousands of fans, announced he was joining active politics with a new party that would contest all 234 seats in the next state elections.
Before Rajinikanth, there was M.G. Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa—high-profile actors who crossed over. But success didn’t come to them immediately. They traversed lower political rungs for many years before establishing themselves as defining points of Tamil Nadu politics.
MGR started as a member of the Congress. In 1953, he switched his allegiance to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and first became a member of the legislative assembly in 1962. In 1972, he fell out with DMK leader M. Karunanidhi and formed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which first came to power in 1977; all this while, MGR used the medium of films to further his political messaging.
MGR died in 1987, and Jayalalithaa—a co-star and political protégée, who joined the party in 1982—wrested control of AIADMK. She first led the party in state polls in 1989 and became chief minister in 1991. While MGR never lost an election after forming the AIADMK, Jayalalithaa in 2016 became the first chief minister in Tamil Nadu since MGR to be re-elected.
Succession in Tamil Nadu politics has always been a bone of contention, and the state has historically had a place for larger-than-life personalities. It’s in this backdrop that Rajinikanth has thrown his hat into the ring.
Data source: Election Commission of India
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