January 1, 2017
Superstar Rajinikanth, who made waves on Sunday by plunging
into electoral politics, on Monday launched a website and an app inviting people
to sign up in his campaign to bring about a political change in Tamil Nadu.
Even as established political parties by and large appeared to play the wait-and-watch game, Rajinikanth uploaded a one-minute video extending New Year greetings and thanking all those who supported his entry into politics.
"I have created a web page -- www.rajinimanram.org -- where members of my registered fans associations and unregistered associations and people who want a good change in Tamil Nadu's politics can register with their names and voter ID to coordinate ourselves.
"Let us bring a good change in Tamil Nadu. Hail Tamil people and Tamil Nadu," he said in the video, which had a logo made famous by him in his super-hit film "Baba" with words "Truth, Labour, Elevation".
Accusing political parties of "looting" the people, Rajinikanth on Sunday said he would float a new party to pursue "spiritual politics" and vowed to contest the next Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
After years of uncertainty, the 68-year-old bus conductor-turned-heartthrob of Tamil cinema told cheering supporters here that his decision was a "compulsion of time".
Alleging that politics in the country had gone "very wrong", Rajinikanth said: "Under the guise of democracy, political parties are looting their own people." Such a system, he added, needed to be changed.
Meanwhile, former AIADMK MP K.C. Palaniswamy claimed that his party was not perturbed by Rajini's announcement.
Ever since 1996, the AIADMK has been working on a strategy of 'anti-DMK+Congress+Rajinikant factor' and the actor's Sunday announcement that he would float a party was not worrying, he said.
"There is a widespread perception that Rajinikanth is taking a political plunge at the insistence of BJP. His announcement that he would practice `spiritual politics' will cost his proposed party the minority votes," AIADMK spokesperson Palaniswamy told IANS.
In 1996 Rajinikanth declared that if J. Jayalalithaa was voted back to power, even God would not be able to save Tamil Nadu. That statement was said to have played a major role in the victory of the DMK-TMC combine then.
However, in 2004, Rajinikanth said his vote was for the BJP which had aligned with AIADMK for the Lok Sabha polls. At that time, he was very upset at the PMK party that opposed him for his smoking and drinking scenes in the movie "Baba". The PMK was then aligned with the DMK.
"The actor is facing an uphill task. Firstly, he has to build the grassroot infrastructure. His age (67) as well as the age of his fans, who are around 50, are against him," Palaniswamy added.
According to him, Rajinikanth's foray would affect only the Congress, DMK and the sidelined party leader T.T.V. Dinakaran.
While MDMK chief Vaiko declined to comment on Rajini's decision, Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar on Monday said that only Rajinikanth should explain what he meant by "spiritual politics".
MDMK leader Vaiko refused to comment on Rajinikanth's decision, noting that everyone had a right to join politics.
The hugely popular actor said his party would not contest the upcoming local body elections but would field candidates in all the 234 Assembly seats in 2021.
In a clear attack on the ruling AIADMK, Rajinikanth said the happenings in Tamil Nadu in the past one year -- since Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa died in December 2016, leading to splits in the party -- had made the state a laughing stock.
Political analyst Jhon Arokiasamy said people saw AIADMK's sidelined leader T.T.V. Dinakaran as a true leader for taking on the BJP that is in power nationally.
"Rajinikanth may say he will practice politics that will not be based on caste or religion. But the political fabric at the ground level is that of caste," he told IANS.
According to Arokiasamy, at the most Rajinikanth may target Dalit votes if one goes by the theme of his last movie "Kabali".
He said DMDK founder Vijayakant took several years to condition and convert his fan clubs into a political organisation.
On Sunday, the actor himself admitted that in a state with a plethora of political parties, it would be no easy task to float a new one. "It is like taking a pearl from the deep sea."
According to Arokiasamy, the possibility of Rajinikanth's party merging with the BJP in the future cannot be ruled out.