Over two decades after he first serenaded his love for politics and sent periodical messages loaded with political ambition, actor Rajinikanth in the denouement has concluded that he and politics are miles apart. Critics feel the pandemic and his health have relieved him of the agony of launching a party, since he never even prepared for a plunge.
“I have been saying that he is not dependable by his own expressions. He is not only indecisive, but is also ever unprepared to undertake a journey in politics. He is highly inadequate [politically], he understands it more than anyone else, but was not able to accept it,” said Ramu Manivannan, professor and head of department of politics and public administration, University of Madras.
His brush with politics have thrown up differing results. In the mid-1990s, he condemned the deteriorating law and order situation in Tamil Nadu, after a bomb was hurled at the residence of director Maniratnam. Later, he openly supported the DMK-TMC combine, which won with a landslide in the 1996 Assembly election. He again voiced support for the alliance in the snap poll to the Lok Sabha in 1998, even though it happened amid the serial bomb blast in Coimbatore. But the DMK-TMC fared badly. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, he backed BJP-AIADMK, but the formation was routed. Thereafter, some parties sought to appropriate him, but he proved elusive.
“He was getting away with film dialogues. But he was now at a final frontier, set by BJP wherein if he took a leap it would have been from the cliff of the mountain. He was not ready for it,” Prof. Manivannan said.
Sashi Kumar, chairman of the Media Development Foundation, felt the actor’s health was indeed an issue. He also pointed out that Mr. Rajinikanth had always been hesitant. “He has an abnegating nature, apart from what he projects in the films. To be fair to him, he has a spiritual abnegating nature. He was forced against his grain to enter into an area, which I don’t think he would have done well in either,” Mr. Kumar said.
To those who expected Mr. Rajinikanth to replicate former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s success in politics, Mr. Kumar said MGR was a phenomenon. In Mr. Rajinkanth’s case, his age also came in the way of succeeding in politics.
“He would have got 3% [votes] or more [had he contested]. Tamil Nadu is still an arena for the Dravidian parties. Mr. Rajinikanth’s ideology was also not clear. It looked like he was currying favour with the BJP,” he said.
Prof. Manivannan reiterated that a person who could not see himself in politics, as an opposition leader, could never be the leader of the masses or a Chief Minister. “How could one see themself only as a Chief Minister? You plunge into politics and not power People like Mr. Rajinikanth want themselves seated in power and not take a plunge into politics. That is my criticism about people and actors who want to become Chief Ministers and not politicians,” he said.