By Dr. Chandrika Subramaniyan
The guessing game is finally over. Rajinikanth, the State’s super star, has officially announced his entry into politics and named it as ‘spiritual politics’. He has declared that he will form his own party, which has raised the eyebrows of many people. However, his entry is unlikely until the next Assembly polls, which will be held in 2021. One of the first to react to Rajinikanth’s dramatic announcement was his rival actor, Kamal Haasan, who is also aiming to shine in politics. Kamal Haasan has announced that he will name his political party on 21 February at Ramanathapuram, his native town and begin a tour of the State the same day from there. The professional rivals are now going to be political rivals.
No doubt, Tamil Nadu politics and filmdom are inseparable since the sixties. It started with C.N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi and continued with M. G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa’s political entry after their successful careers in cinema.
It was all under control under the shining star Jayalalithaa until her death in December, which had left a volatile political status in Tamil Nadu. The people of Tamil Nadu sighed, believing that, that the celluloid era had ended and the people could expect genuine political progress.
Within weeks following J. Jayalalithaa’s death Tamil Nadu experienced a dramatic power struggle and now the ruling party has split into three factions, ahead of the rocky roads towards a political stalemate.
Actress turned politician, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalaithaa has established gender proof, a ‘one-woman show’, with all the power and charisma originating only from herself in AIADMK and in Tamil Nadu. She followed her ‘political guru’ MGR’s path, with the absence of a clear succession plan. However, the support she received from MGR in public, enhanced her chances of emerging as a heroine leader of the poor, who named her ‘as Amma’ the ‘Iron Lady’ of Tamil Nadu.
Jayalalithaa’s death left a question about leadership crisis in Tamil Nadu with no political solution to date. Speculations threw the limelight on Rajinikanth, his friend Kamal also started to express his interest in politics. Mentioning about the political system as ‘corrupt’ and describing democracy as in a ‘rotten’ state in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth hinted that he will take to politics as he appealed to his fans to be ready for ‘war’ at the right time. Undoubtedly, he is the most famous global star from India and has expanded his fame beyond boundaries to reach Southeast Asia and Japan.
However, this being not the first time, but many times in the past, Rajini has expressed his intention to take to politics but it has been a disappointment. No doubt, he is a popular entertainer. But, will he make a political career? His expected political interest has drawn widespread criticism and already created a furore in the political arena. Because, Rajinikanth has often been accused of taking ambiguous stands on crucial issues. It has been a history for the past twenty years, Rajinikanth has been creating anxiety in the people of Tamil Nadu, at national and regional levels and to the political observers predicting his much-expected political debut.
Unexpectedly, Rajini’s friend Kamal Haasan, the 62-year-old, popularly called Ulaganayagan (Hero of the World) has been creating waves in the political spectrum with his hints concerning a much-awaited political entry. Kamal, has been more clearer about his political aspirations when compared to his friend.”This is the right time for me to come into active politics because everything that can possibly go wrong is going wrong,” he said. “We need better governance. I am not promising swift remedies.
But I promise to start the process of change,” he said in an interview. However, he categorically denied joining any existing party.
Kamal’s political entry
Kamal Haasan’s recent announcement on quitting his acting career, if he enters full time politics, signals his political entry is expected soon. His recent fans meeting, at his Chennai residence, which discussed strategies for the new party, is a signal that alerts the people who have taken his midnight Tweets for just a Tropical Bird’s midnight chirpings.
As a measure to end the wild speculations of his fans, followers, well-wishers and ill-wishers, for whom he had been creating nightmares through his tweets, Kamal Haasan finally announced his intention to launch a new Party. Kamal Haasan is not so convinced about the ideologies and functioning of the existing political parties who can get his backing, support or alliance given their record of corruption in their past regimes. Hence, comes his decision to launch a new party with his whole new ideologies and theories that can work against the deep rooted corruption and to redeem the State of Tamil Nadu from the shackles of the history of dirty politics.
He finally decided to step out of twitter and come on the public platform to speak his mind. This recent announcement of Kamal Haasan supersedes the action of Rajini by giving an exact date- which is his birthday, when his new political party will be launched. Though he was expected to come to the political arena only in January next year, he is said to have hastened his decision to launch his infant party on his 63rd birthday that falls on 7 November ’17. For Kamal Haasan, it is a calculated move and this haste will certainly not result in waste, is what is inferred about his political aims.
Kamal and Rajini are the two giant personalities of contemporary Tamil cinema. Their cinema roles have created the models of good Samaritans. Despite variety of hints and making dramatic statements, the people of Tamil Nadu are now waiting to see whether Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth will perform the same role in real to save the people of Tamil Nadu.
Rajini or Kamal stand less chance in politics – Kamal’s brother
In a recent television interview, Kamal’s brother Charuhasan, casts doubts on the political success of both the stars. While commenting on both actors he said, “I don’t think Rajini or Kamal stand much of a chance in politics,” adding to that “even if Kamal and Rajnikanth started a party together, they wouldn’t get more than 10% of the votes”. Charuhasan further added that the previous actors turned politicians didn’t get votes because people were crazy about their films. “If they had, Jayalalithaa wouldn’t have lost twice,” he said.
Self-respect, not self-defence– Kamal
At an event, DMK celebrating its official newspaper Murasoli’s platinum jubilee in Chennai, Kamal said, “Self-respect, not self-defence, matters most and Kamal added that ‘If Rajini enters politics I’ll join hands with him.” This statement was widely considered as an attack on superstar Rajinikanth.
Stardom does not guarantee success in politics – Rajini
However, few weeks later while attending the inauguration of a memorial constructed by the Tamil Nadu Government for the iconic actor Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth squared off by saying “fame and clout earned in cinema were not enough to help one make a mark in politics, and stressed there was something beyond these attributes that ensured success in public affairs.” He added that his contemporary Kamal Haasan possibly knew what that something was, but might not want not share the secret with him.
The challenges ahead
Thera are many challenges and teething troubles Kamal need to face which are listed below but not limited.
Being an atheist, he is still confused about his political association with the BJP, the pro Hindu party. But he did not sideline the idea of his party having an electoral alliance with the BJP at the centre and at the same time expressed his interest to form a new party. The majority of Tamil Nadu voters are Hindus.
He identifies himself as Periyar E.V. Ramasamy who propagated the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and eradication of caste in Tamil Nadu. However, Kamal is identified by his caste – Brahmin.
His speeches are criticized as highly confusing and not layman’s language. Can he win over the public with such confusing communication?
Politics in India involves huge financial needs. Will Kamal be able to sustain this?
He expressed his intention to become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu which is not an overnight achievement.
He himself did not sideline the idea of his party having an electoral alliance with the BJP at the centre and at the same time expressed his interest in forming a new party.
There is wide criticism from various quarters about cinema actors taking to politics.
What is favourable
There are favourable scenarios that do exist against all the objections and odd situations. With Jayalalithaa leaving no succession plan, it gives space for ‘WHY NOT KAMAL’, which may give him an opportunity.
The spirit of the people seems tough to be dampened with any kind of negative preaching’s against the political wishes of Kamal Haasan, as people feel there is a wave of change and it is bound to happen in a short period from now.
There is no competing leader within the current political arena.
There are different aspects to look at as to how Kamal’s entry into politics would bring about a change in the stalemate situation of the state politics.
The best gets unfolded in the coming month and the wait is over.