Superstar Rajinikanth’s tagline of “spiritual politics” in Tamil Nadu, many say, could significantly dent the ruling AIADMK in the state that will hold elections early next year.
Over the last few years, the AIADMK, they say, has grappled with the absence of a strong leader after J Jayalalitha’s death. With the party in power over the last nine years, it also faces anti-incumbency and the cadre could be drawn towards the 69-year-old movie star’s larger-than-life image.
With critics labelling Rajinikanth the “B-Team” of BJP, the opposition DMK is hopeful of keeping its fold including minorities intact, irrespective of Rajinikanth fighting alone or supporting the AIADMK-BJP alliance.
Political analyst and senior journalist GC Sekhar told NDTV, “Rajinikanth’s brand of spiritual politics will again eat into AIADMK which is full of temple-going Hindus. Rajinikanth’s entry will largely affect the AIADMK than the DMK.”
With a thrust on fighting corruption, employment and development of villages, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, who made his political plunge much ahead of Rajinikanth, also hopes to consolidate his position in the assembly polls. His party the MNM secured nearly 4 per cent of the vote in Lok Sabha elections.
This would be the first assembly elections in Tamil Nadu after the death of two icons J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi. In their first Lok Sabha elections after the leaders died, the DMK swept the polls and the AIADMK suffered a near wipe-out. Both the stars are hoping to carve a political space for themselves.
Though a third front has not been successful in Tamil Nadu, the two Dravidian arch-rivals are certainly rattled about Rajinikanth’s announcement. In 1996, a one-liner had from Rajinikanth had defeated Jayalalithaa and catapulted the DMK to power. Two decades later, the upcoming polls could be a litmus test for the superstar’s political charisma.