Rajinikanth’s sharp criticism of note ban sparks buzz about ties with BJP
Matinee icon Rajinikanth, who announced his political plunge last year, has often been accused by his rivals of leaning towards the BJP. On Monday, the actor-politician, however, appeared to spring a surprise with his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s notes ban decision.
“The way it was implemented was not correct. Its implementation was wrong. It needs to be discussed in detail,” said Rajinikanth, who had once welcomed demonetisation and described it as a timely initiative to curb black money.
The superstar, who has a huge following in Tamil Nadu and beyond, also gave a cryptic response when reporters asked him about opposition efforts to unite against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Does this show that the BJP is posing grave threat?” he was asked.
“If everybody thinks that way, definitely it could be,” he shot back.
This could be the first time when Rajinikanth’s remarks may not be palatable to the saffron camp. In the past, he has been very vocal about his support to Prime Minister Modi as well as the BJP, leading to criticism that he remains its ‘B Team’ or even its “puppet”. Also, he had supported many top leaders of the party as well those espousing the Hindutva cause. Moreover, his spiritual inclination and the frequent trips to the Himalayas, seeking solace, have endeared him to the saffron brigade.
Political analysts are, however, not convinced that he has started resisting the saffron pull.
“This one-off remark can’t be taken as a statement of his political stance. This does not reflect his position. He continues to live under different shades and does not reveal what he stands for. The popular perception is that he is a ‘B-Team’ of the BJP, which is trying for a foothold in the Dravidian stronghold. That impression continues to remain and hasn’t changed,” says Ramu Manivannan, author and professor of Political Science at Madras University.
BJP leaders seemed to agree, saying the actor alone could explain what he actually meant. “This could not be taken as a definitive one from Rajinikanth. It was a response to a question and we are not unduly worried. He is very clear on his path and we understand that,” said a BJP leader who did not want to be identified.
At the media interaction, the superstar also declined to comment on the Centre rejecting the Tamil Nadu government’s recommendation in 2016 to set free the seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Through an RTI petition, it has emerged that the Union home ministry had rejected the recommendation. “I have come only now. I am not aware of the full details,” Rajinikanth said.
The state government had recommended to the governor to release them but the governor is yet to decide on the matter. Save the Congress and the BJP, there is a political consensus on releasing them as they have been in prison for 27 years now.