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Coimbatore

Rajinikanth’s entry will introduce a charismatic personality in Tamil Nadu politics – An interview with senior journalist Maalan

Shilpa VK

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We caught up with senior journalist and political analyst Maalan N on how Rajinikanth would fare in his political debut, what does his brand of “Aanmeega Arasiyil” means, his potential equation with the ADMK and the BJP, and more.

Rajinikanth’s entry to filmdom was signified with a gate opening in Aboorva Ragangal. However, his political plunge may not be that easy. MGR spent many years, learning the ropes before he took the plunge. How difficult would Rajini have as a political aspirant forming a party with just a few months away for elections?

There is no surprise in Rajinikanth coming to elections. Times have changed. Earlier, we had to communicate through letters and it would take about two days to reach the concerned party. Likewise, if you wanted to send across a political message, you had to convene a meeting and such. Times have changed now. You can make a video and send across the message. Therefore, one doesn’t really need to go and meet people or convene a meeting. People like Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party have relied heavily on social media. Even Hillary Clinton when she contested against Donald Trump, she relied on social media a lot. Communication strategies have changed.

People have been waiting for a change. They have been voting for the two Dravidian parties. Right from 1989, there have been efforts for an alternative. Rajinikanth has a lot of charisma and has a good chance of garnering votes. 2021 assembly elections may give a broken verdict. Even if he doesn’t a garner a victory he expects, it would still be a good show, overall.

The ADMK has been saying that they had been giving “Aanmeega Arasiyal” only whereas DMK’s Kanimozhi says it’s not right to bring spirituality into politics. Will Rajinikanth’s “Aanmeega Arasiyal” find favour with the public? What do you think they are looking for in a prospective candidate or leader even if the person doesn’t want to be the Chief Ministerial candidate?

People think that Aanmeega Arasiyil has something to do with religion. It has to do with respect for all. Likewise, in politics, it signifies respect for all and respecting an opponent’s opinion. This is what Rajini is trying to give.

This is the first election since 1991 to not have the stalwarts – Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi in the fray. Is there really room for a third front or at best, they could split a few votes?

Politics in Tamil Nadu is based on a person. It is not an ideology-based politics. Parties that lack personalities will set to lose in the elections. For example, we saw what happened to Congress in Tamil Nadu post the demise of Kamarajar. A DMK without MGR couldn’t put up a good show in elections until the latter’s demise. Rajinikanth’s entry will introduce a charismatic personality in Tamil Nadu politics. There is an opportunity for a third front now and hope Rajini can make use of it.

Rajinikanth hasn’t been clear on what’s his equation with BJP stands as. Do people see him and BJP as one and the same?

If Rajinikanth wanted to join hands with BJP, he would have announced it long back. He has said that on December 31, he will announce his plans. Then, things would be clearer. I don’t think he will form an alliance with anyone. Maybe, post elections, he may think of joining an alliance with someone, but don’t think there would be anything on that front before that.

Sceptics say that the mere presence of Rajinikanth and his brand name in all the 234 seats which he has admitted to contest will help the ruling party. That is, in the event of ADMK forging an alliance with an individual who’s seen as the next MGR. What is your opinion on this?

Rajinikanth’s entry will affect the vote bank of all parties. For example, those who didn’t like DMK or believed in religion, voted for Jayalalithaa and you can say they belong to the probable vote share of the BJP. ADMK was a beneficiary of those votes since both MGR and Jayalalithaa displayed their love for faith. They didn’t disrespect any religion. Those votes might be Rajinikanth’s gain and this may affect ADMK. So, we can’t say this would be beneficial for just one particular party.

Two big stars had never shared screen space once their career had taken wings. How good it would be a political gain in the unlikely possibility of the two mega stars of Kollywood coming together?

Beyond a point, Rajini and Kamal didn’t act in movies together. Kamal even explained the business part of it – it would be difficult to pay both stars their salaries and then make the film be commercially viable. I think they will contest separately only in the upcoming election. Maybe, in the future, there is a possibility of them coming together. I don’t see anything before that.

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