India is a country which is always in a churning mode and Indians are obsessed with politics, sports and entertainment cutting across party lines and class. On 31st December 2017, Tamil cinestar and demigod Rajinikanth announced his entry into political arena while meeting and greeting his fans and said that time is right to take the plunge and his conscience is telling him to clean the electoral system in Tamil Nadu politics.
How should we interpret Rajinikanth’s entry into politics? The Thalaiva has always been apolitical and very rarely has spoken about politics in public life and has never taken a stand on any national or local issues. Rajinikanth is a star who has always lived a simple life and despite being a big movie star he has never been arrogant about his stardom and has always taken a lead on humanitarian causes. The Tamil star had famously said during 1996 state elections that if Jayalalithaa comes to power than even god cannot save Tamil Nadu. The perception in political circles is that Rajinikanth has a soft corner for DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and is more suited with DMK’s ideology and polity.
Is Rajinikanth living in la la land? The harsh reality is that it is very hard to convert your die-hard fan base into hardcore votes and apart from MGR and Jayalalithaa no film star has made a mark in state politics in the last 50 years. The close bonhomie that Rajinikanth shares with prime minister Narendra Modi is also seen as a disadvantage for the superstar as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a negligible presence in the state and is a party which is Hindi centric and has no real presence at the grass root levels. During the recent RK Nagar bypoll, BJP fetched less votes than NOTA and Tamil Nadu BJP leaders are adamant that Rajinikanth needs BJP’s support to take on Dravidian (AIADMK & DMK) parties.
Politics is a game of probabilities and Rajinikanth in his long and distinguished career has achieved everything and the political debut might not turn out to be as successful as his box office collection. The main difference between cinema and politics is that former relies on first-weekend business as the latter is a profession for 24*7 365 days job and is not for faint-hearted. Rajinikanth has every right to launch his political party and practice spiritual politics, but politics is not straightforward and it requires full-time attention and more often than not you will taste defeat than victory and unlike a film you don’t have a script and not every election result has a happy ending.