Rajinikanth announced his foray into politics on Sunday, saying his yet-to-be-floated party will contest in the 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. But Rajini’s ability to pull crowds and convert them into votes is likely to be put to test much earlier, with BJP leaders wooing him to campaign for them in the upcoming Karnataka elections Rajinikanth seemed to be closer to the BJP ever since he hinted at his aspirations to enter politics early last year and his avowed ‘spiritual politics’ has given the saffron party to lap him up. “The BJP is always happy to associate with Rajini Kanth and we have been supporting his cause all along. We are not practicing political untouchability and anybody with integrity is welcome to our fold,” said C T Ravi, co-convener of Tamil Nadu BJP and Karnataka’s senior legislator, adding that “it is too early to spell out a poll strategy”.
“Rajini’s ‘spiritual politics’ is in line with the BJP’s ideology. We need to change atheist-oriented politics of Tamil Nadu and replace it with the politics guided by religious values. Rajini’s entry can help us in the mission,” said Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamil Isai Soundarrajan. With four more years to go for TN assembly polls, the timing of Rajinikanth’s announcement, political observers feel, has a Karnataka angle to it. Rajini has his roots in Karnataka, which is going to the polls in May next.
Rajini’s brother Satyanarayana Rao Gaikwad who lives in Bengaluru told TOI that his brother always wanted to serve Karnataka where he was born and brought up and worked as a bus conductor before rising to stardom. “It is his dream to serve the state where his roots are. By entering active politics in Tamil Nadu, he will be able to serve both the states and we hope it would be easy to iron out many conflicts between them with him at the helm,” said Rao.
Rao, who said Rajini is likely to reveal his party’s name on Sankranthi, said it is too early to comment about the likelihood of the superstar campaigning for the BJP in Karnataka. “He has just announced his political entry and let him settle down before making the next move. The Karnataka polls are a few months away. Certain ground-level tasks like setting up of associations of supporters at the village-level and strengthening the organizational base are the priority,” Rao added.
The actor in his recent public speeches had played up his Kannada roots. Besides emotionally describing how he had touched Kannada iconic actor Rajkumar’s feet before becoming an actor, Rajini spoke of how he had auditioned in Kannada and did his school in Kannada medium. “Associating with Rajini is more suitable for the BJP, especially in the current Karnataka scenario. Long-term strategies will follow,” said Tarasu Shyam, the senior journalist in Tamil Nadu.