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Rajinikanth’s decision to keep away from electoral politics will disappoint the BJP

Rajinikanth asked his supporters to vote for a party which was ready to solve water woes of the state. That was enough for BJP sympathisers to point out that it was the NDA government which recently had talked of linking the Cauvery and Godavari.

editorials Updated: Feb 19, 2019 07:52 IST
Actor Rajinikanth addresses the media outside his Poes Garden residence after a meeting with the women’s wing of Rajini Makkal Mandram (Rajini people’s forum), Chennai, February 17(PTI)

In the 1995 blockbuster film, Muthu, Rajinikanth’s character comes up with a famous line: “Naan eppo varuven, epdi varuvennu yarukkum theriyathu. Aana var vendiya nerathula correcta vandhuduven” (No one can tell when or how I’ll arrive, but when the time is right, I will be there). For fans of the superstar, the wait seems to have got longer. Rajinikanth, for now, has decided to stay away from the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as he believed the time is not right. He has also declared that he will not support any party.

For professional watchers of the Tamil superstar, this declaration comes as no surprise. Unlike his Kollywood counterpart, Kamal Hassan, who has said his Makkal Needhi Maiyam will contest all 40 seats, Rajinkanth has always been a fence sitter. The only time he openly voiced his political opinion was in 1996 when he declared that even god would not be able to save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa were to be re-elected. The subsequent electoral losses of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) were duly credited to him.

After that, Rajini has always made just cryptic statements ahead of elections. His stance, however, is a big disappointment to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has struggled to establish itself in the Dravidan land. It is no secret that it has been making efforts behind the scenes to see whether in a post-Jayalalithaa era, a leaderless AIADMK would embrace a charismatic leader. While it may yet cobble together an alliance with the AIADMK, its opponents in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress-Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Indian Union Muslim League (DMK-Congress-MDMK-IUML), along with the left parties, will pose a formidable challenge.

The BJP was hoping to offset some of the impending losses in the Hindi heartland with a better performance in the southern states, where it won only 19 of the 132 seats on offer, in 2014. With Rajinikanth queering the pitch, the BJP would now be hoping to strengthen its front by roping in Capt Vijaykanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which has a very strong Vanniyar caste support. While the DMDK is keen for an alliance, the PMK is driving a hard bargain and negotiating with both fronts.

True to his style, Rajinkanth has announced his abstention from this round of polls. But he asked his supporters to vote for a party which was ready to solve water woes of the state. That was enough for BJP sympathisers are now reduced to pointing out that the National Democratic Alliance government had suggested linking the Cauvery and the Godavari. The BJP may yet take heart from another famous Rajni line in the film, Kochadiiyaan: “Vaipugal amayadhu, namdhan amithukolla vendum” (Opportunities don’t just happen, you have to create them.)

First Published: Feb 19, 2019 07:51 IST