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Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth gestures during a press conference to announce the launch of his political party in January 2021 (PTI)
Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth gestures during a press conference to announce the launch of his political party in January 2021 (PTI)

Will Rajinikanth's bet on 'spiritual' politics, 'change' mantra catapult him ?

  • Assembly elections are due in Tamil Nadu during April-May 2021
  • The 'change everything' slogan in addition to the 'now or never' is about a complete overhaul of the 'system' in governance

Chennai: If his political package of 'spiritual politics' plus 'change everything' clicks, Rajinikanth would be the third star from the celluloid world to taste political success in Tamil Nadu after AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran and his protege J Jayalalithaa.

Whether or not his charisma and fan following would catapult him to political primacy could also be gauged, to an extent, from how he was going to explain his spiritual politics and the mantra of change to the people besides a host of other factors.

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Assembly elections are due in Tamil Nadu during April-May 2021. According to the actor, spiritual politics is honesty, transparency and graft free politics transcending the barriers of caste and religion to provide good governance.

The 'change everything' slogan in addition to the 'now or never' is about a complete overhaul of the 'system' in governance and at the level of party structure as well to facilitate a real change for the benefit of the people.

The star, who had described himself in the past as a fanatic fan of late MGR, had invoked his legacy to assure a good administration for the benefit of poor and common man. Before he founded the AIADMK in 1972, MGR was with the DMK and had been also been active in politics. Virtually challenging Dravidian ideology, he had asked if honesty, belief in God and overcoming the barriers of caste and religion was alien to the Dravidian land.

On the poll prospects for the actor, political analyst Sumanth Raman said it was too early to predict since there were many questions to be answered by the actor. Raman wondered, "What is the meaning of change everything ? what is his policy and programmes ?"

He said the actor should explain how he would usher in the change that he has promised. Many things-- like if his party would contest all the 234 seats, if it is so, who would be the candidates or whether there is a possibility of stitching an electoral alliance are not known, he said. Rajinikanth would also need a large team of credible faces to be fielded as candidates, he pointed out.

To a question on the actor saying in March that he would prefer to name a youth as Chief Minister and stay out of governance, Raman wondered if that view was still "valid." "Rajinikanth will make an impact. But for the impact to be really huge, there should be answers for such questions. I can see that both AIADMK and DMK is rattled by his political innings." he told PTI.

On spiritual politics, he said the DMK may try to give a spin to it, but he did not see 'neagativity' about it.

Dravidian ideologue V M S Subagunarajan, however, did not concur. He said the actor could not get a political foothold in Tamil Nadu since neither spirituality nor nationalistic politics have ever been successful in the state. Despite rooted in Periyar's ideology, the state has some space for film stars but only for those who have either acknowledged or endorsed the Dravidian ideology like actors Vijayakanth (founder of DMDK) and Kamal Haasan (chief of Makkal Needhi Maiam), he said.

"Rajinikanth's brand of spirituality is no doubt Hindu spirituality. His claim that he embraces all faiths is only hollow," he said, adding the actor's party, with its hues of spiritualism and nationalism may only be a clone of the BJP. "Nationalistic politics has no place in Tamil Nadu and yesteryear top star Sivaji Ganesan's failure to take off politically is a very good example," he said.

Renowned actor Sivaji Ganesan, who founded a political party after associating with the Congress, was defeated by DMK's Durai Chandrasekaran in the 1989 Assembly election (Tiruvaiyaru assembly constituency) by a margin of over 10,000 votes. Ganesan could only emerge as the runner-up.

Film critic and political analyst M Bharat Kumar pointed out that the actor has said his spiritual politics treated all religions equally and that it transcended all barriers. "The AIADMK is already following soft spiritualism through several welfare measures for the benefit of all faiths including Christians and Muslims. So, we need to see how he is going to distinguish himself from the AIADMK to succeed," he said.

The actor has promised 'spiritual politics' driven by the 'change' mantra in Tamil Nadu which is dominated by Dravidian politics of the AIADMK and DMK for over five decades.

The death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi in 2016 and 2018 respectively, provided the perfect setting for Kamal Haasan and now Rajinikanth to aspire to climb the political ladder.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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