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Explained: What’s the significance of Rajinikanth cancelling his entry into politics?

Rajinikanth's statement has come two days before he was to reveal the date to launch his party in January 2021. Tamil Nadu is likely to go to polls in May 2021.

Written by Arun Janardhanan , Edited by Explained Desk | Chennai |
Updated: January 5, 2021 10:34:57 am
rajinikanth, rajinikanth news, rajinikanth latest news, rajinikanth tamil nadu politics, rajinikanth political party, rajinikanth political party news, tamil nadu elections, rajinikanth health condition, indian express explainedRajinikanth, in his statement on Tuesday, cited his health condition and Covid-19 pandemic as main reasons for deciding against his political entry. (Express photo/File)

Rajinikanth has announced he would not take the electoral plunge citing health concerns and the pandemic. The Tamil megastar was hospitalised in Hyderabad three days ago for fluctuations in blood pressure. And much like his “spiritual” statements in the past, the 71-year-old attributed his decision to God, saying: “I see this (hospitalisation) as a warning given to me by God. My campaign will impact health amid the pandemic.”

What was it all about?

After widespread speculations about his political debut for over two decades, and his first declaration to enter politics in December 2017, and yet another but concrete statement about his political debut and launching a party earlier this month, Rajinikanth on Tuesday said he has cancelled all his political plans.

The statement has come two days before he was to reveal the date to launch his party in January 2021. Tamil Nadu is likely to go to polls in May 2021. Full text of Rajinikanth’s statement

His latest decision has come after a few crew members of his movie-in-production, Annatthe, tested positive for Covid-19 and Rajinikanth himself was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad.

Why has Rajinikanth decided to quit politics even before making an entry?

Many of his fans agree to the fact that Rajinikanth’s health condition may not allow him to enter politics amid a pandemic There is also a section that was keen on his entry as other politicians are leading the campaign ahead of the Assembly polls. His entry was also seen as a necessity for the BJP to build an anti-Dravidian front in the state given that the actor largely holds nationalistic and spiritual views.

Rajinikanth, in his statement on Tuesday, cited his health condition and Covid-19 pandemic as main reasons for deciding against his political entry. He did mention about immunosuppressant medicines he is taking.

However, Rajinikanth had these health risks even when he made pronouncements about entering politics in December 2017 and earlier this month.

So, did a minor fluctuation in blood pressure last week make him change his mind? His critics, as well as many on the social media, see it as a strategic move by the actor arguing to deal with power centres in New Delhi. Someone who knew about early discussions in the Rajinikanth camp said he was actually playing around in order to escape from the obligations he could have had with the national party.

In fact, the medical bulletin from the Apollo Hospital itself was unusual as it revealed too many details about his health condition while stating that “the doctors had counselled him to avoid any activity that increases the risk of contracting Covid-19”.

“He just wanted to escape from this whirlwind, luckily he made it,” said a source close to Rajinikanth.

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How his exit would change the Assembly polls scenario now

In a state where the vote base of two Dravidian majors elect the ruling government, Rajinikanth’s proposed political plans did create an impression of a tri-corner contest. There were even chances of Kamal Haasan, yet another actor in the fray contesting individually, and parties like OBC-Vanniyar backed PMK, former Congress leader G K Vasan and even DMK chief M K Stalin’s elder brother M K Alagiri joining his group.

In absence of Rajinikanth, however, the poll scenario has become a usual two-cornered contest in the state where the ruling AIADMK and the powerful opposition DMK, who were out of power for a decade, are trying their luck. There are many factors that go in the favour of DMK even as Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has done a fairly good job in last four years of AIADMK government.

Other individual parties are unlikely to create a huge impact as TTV Dhinakaran, the AIADMK rebel leader who formed AMMK, Naam Tamilar Katchi of Seeman, and Haasan’s MNM, are unlikely to get a combined vote percentage of more than 10 per cent.

Rajinikanth’s withdrawal citing health reasons would also diminish the scope and the presence of the BJP as they wouldn’t have any more chances to talk about coalition government in AIADMK alliance, neither they have a Rajinikanth party to strike an alliance post polls.

Will Rajinikanth, like in 1996, raise his political voice again as an actor?

RSS camp and some of his fans have been saying that the actor, even if he wouldn’t form a party, will raise his voice in the upcoming election against Dravidian front to favour BJP.

However, sources close to Rajinikanth said he will not do that. “He had too many obligations. He was tied up, obliged and unable to do things his own way. However, now that he has made up his mind, he will not interfere in the political happenings. He is very relieved now. He may be signing contracts for a couple of film projects soon,” a source said.

After all, what is/was the significance of Rajinikanth in electoral politics?

Having no party or done any political work, having not met people nor travelled in the state, Rajinikanth’s proposed party was an entity only on paper until Tuesday. Not only was his entry plan too much delayed but also he was confused when too many reasons, including personal, forced him to make it appear that he will enter politics.

When he finally decided to call off his political plans, it is nothing more than aborting a much-hyped political party that was never born.

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