No Place for Movie Superstars in Politics?

Rajinikanth and Others At The Inauguration of MGR Statue
Rajinikanth pulled out of Politics today and a Senior Journalist says that Tamil Nadu doesn’t entertain celebrities as netas. Read further to know more

Rajinikanth left the entire Tamil Nadu in shock today. Well, you all very well know why. Yes, he announced that he will not be entering politics. And this is after he announcing mega plans of rolling out a party with an eye to propagate spiritual politics. He even left DMK, Kamal Hassan, the ruling AIADMK and other parties in shock as they feared he could split their votes. But now, all of them might be rejoicing his decision.

While some of us are wondering what made him step back all of a sudden, the history is actually repeating. Time and again, the superstar of Bollywood seemed non-committal about his political decisions. I heard a senior journalist saying, “He is a strategist. He would rather measure the pros and cons before announcing big.”

But please, MGR, Jayalalithaa or even their arch-rival Karunanidhi were bigger strategic minds than him. If they were to measure the pros and cons as he did, they may not have become the stalwarts they were. And, he did announce big. Yet, he is not sure of a victory? Or at least, that’s what the media reports today.

As soon as Rajini announced his foray into politics, some experts said, “He will create an impact which MGR did in the 1970s.” But is he a bigger star than MGR or is he even closer to what MGR is? Well, the common folks of Tamil Nadu have to answer this.

Celebrity Cult is gone with MGR and Jayalalithaa?

Imagine what happened in 1970s. MGR, who is an integral part of DMK and a close aide of Karunanidhi breaks away with 12 per cent vote bank in 1971. Then he rolls out his party i.e. Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) which embarks on the ideologies of DMK’s Founder Annadurai. He wins big in 1977 and does not give a chance to DMK to reach the throne until 1989.

Then Jayalalithaa takes over the baton after a tough infighting within the party with MGR’s wife Janaki. Surprisingly, her breakaway faction garners a good amount of vote share and 27 seats in the 1989 elections.

Now, both MGR and Jayalalithaa were cult personalities in Tamil films. They took up roles which were rather socialistic and in reality, they indulge in a lot of social work. Jayalalithaa as a person is seen as a strong woman and a sizable women population find strength in listening to her. Moreover, she is pursued as a learned person who could be a diplomatic value addition as a Chief Minister.

MGR as a person would hug the poorest of all and win their love. His measures as a Chief Minister too such as the Extended Free Meal Scheme for School children and all wins him respect.

Even Karunanidhi for that matter has a similar image. People from downtrodden background find him as an inspiration. In 2006, I asked my servant maid, “Whom did you vote for?” She smiling said, “DMK.” Well, she smiled because she knew me and my family are against that view and she goes on to say, “They gave us free housing scheme in 1960s and 1970s in our village so I like them.”

Did the Superstar Indulge in Enough Philanthropy Across Tamil Nadu to make a Political Impact?

Well, this doesn’t mean the Superstar did not involve in any philanthropic work. Infact, he did. Some of his fans are eagerly waiting for him to come. But his efforts are rather not consistent. He did go on a hunger strike in early 2000s and then few key demonstrations supporting social causes. But did he do enough to become a leader? The answer could be a big NO!

Is the Superstar Overhyped?

I got to speak to K V Lakshman, a Senior Journalist who understood the Political Scenario across South India much better. Talking about the recent development, he said, “Rajinikanth has always been a skeptical about his decision to join politics. He can be a Superstar when it comes to movies, but people have allegiance to leaders who could influence them. Chiranjeevi did rise up big with his Praja Rajyam Party. But he could hardly make an impact in 2009. It is a known fact that Chiranjeevi is a bigger star than Rajinikanth in Andhra Pradesh. Yet, he couldn’t make a political impact.”

This could mean that people in the recent times are looking at politics and movies in different perspective. An NTR or an MGR or Jayalalithaa as well for that matter will always remain history.

What’s the new Political Equation in Tamil Nadu?

Mr Lakshmanan says, “DMK would now heave a sigh of relief while ADMK-BJP alliance will continue. Yet, DMK has a long way to go even though the odds are favouring them. Now, smaller players like PMK and DMDK will have a say and split or consolidate votes.”

Well, what was to come as a Tsunami turned out just to be a minor storm with zero impact. Now, it is back to square one as we again get to choose DMK or ADMK. Let us wait and see what happens next.

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Feature Image Source: Wikipedia

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