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Rajinikanth’s Entry Into Politics: What Impact Will It Make In Post-Jayalalithaa Era Tamil Nadu?

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Like everything Rajinikanth does, his announcement on December 31 too created a huge buzz. After the superstar announced that he would soon be starting his political parties, several political analysts, veteran journalists, and intellectuals weighed in their opinions on whether the actor would succeed in the political world.

In what felt like watching a Rajini movie, the actor, speaking to media persons at Sri Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam, said that he will be starting his own political party, and will contest in all 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu during the next assembly elections.

Naan arasiyalukku varuvadhu urudhi [I will enter politics for sure]”, he said to resounding applause. Calling his political entry a necessity [“kaalathhin kattayam“], Rajini declared that democracy is dead in the state and that a few political events that had happened the past year in Tamil Nadu have shamed its citizens. “If I don’t enter now, I will feel guilty,” he said, “All my preparations have been done. I am not entering for the money or name.”

Journalist Dennis S Jesudasan from The Hindu thinks the actor’s entry might dent the vote base of both the major parties in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK and DMK. Speaking to members of both the parties, as well academicians, the report further states that since film fans constituted the AIADMK’s original support base, a section of them could migrate to Rajinikanth’s party, but it still might not make much of a difference.

Senior journalist TS Sudhir, wrote for Firstpost, that the actor’s plunge into politics will create more than mere ripples, considering he will be making his entry in the post-Jayalalithaa era where a political vacuum exists in Tamil Nadu. Particularly highlighting an incident that happened in 1992, and relating that to his dialogue in Kabali, Rajinikanth might have been throwing hints about his interest in politics for a while now. However, the report adds a fairly valid point on Rajini’s political persona:

“Most of those who had assembled at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai on Sunday were reacting to Rajini the superstar, almost mistaking the accessible reel for the elusive real. After the smog created by the firecrackers settles, Rajini will be expected to provide clarity on contentious issues. Right now, Tamil Nadu and India know nothing about his stand on problematic areas.”

Bharani Vaitheesvaran from The Economic Times writes about how the political pitch in South India is, nevertheless, being altered. Speaking to members of DMK and AIADMK, the former thinks Dravidianism isn’t one of Rajinikanth’s goals while the latter thinks he shouldn’t be someone ‘to be taken lightly’.

The Wire‘s op-ed, written by Prathibha Parameswaran and Divya Karthikeyan, focuses on his speech at Sri Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam and how many feel the BJP connection with his mention of a ‘spiritual politics’. The report further narrates Rajini’s actions in the past and how, considering there is a political vacuum in the state, he is attempting to tap it towards his benefit.

Scroll‘s Sruthisagar Yamunan addresses a point most op-eds have – the possible threat to Dravidian politics. Highlighting that the actor was bold enough to speak on spiritual politics, something that is a far cry from the rational and atheism of Dravidian politics, the report also touches upon the possible Rajini vs Kamal showdown considering even Kamal Haasan has his eyes on politics.

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