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  Opinion   Oped  07 Feb 2020  Why does the ‘rise’ of Rajinikanth in TN politics make DMK, AIADMK see red?

Why does the ‘rise’ of Rajinikanth in TN politics make DMK, AIADMK see red?

The writer is a public policy analyst.
Published : Feb 7, 2020, 1:51 am IST
Updated : Feb 7, 2020, 1:51 am IST

The media in TN would chew on Rajinikanth’s observations in the next two weeks as if he wants to drive out minorities in India and especially in TN.


Rajinikanth registered his views on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) very firmly and insisted on the need for the National Population Register (NCR) recently. He also logically questioned how Muslims who remain an integral part of India even after Partition could lose their citizenship because of the CAA. It has been insisted by all the political parties at one or other point of time that India should send back illegal Muslim immigrants of Bangladesh who managed to enter India in the last 45 years and the very purpose of CAA and NPR is to achieve this objective. On expected lines, once Rajinikanth registered his views on CAA and NCR, the political leaders of DMK, Congress and other fringe parties expressed their displeasure and condemned the views of Rajinikanth. The media in TN would chew on Rajinikanth’s observations in the next two weeks as if he wants to drive out minorities in India and especially in TN.

This was the second consecutive assertion by Rajinikanth since January 2020. On the eve of Thuglak magazine’s golden jubilee celebrations, Rajinikanth spoke about how by his reaction, the then CM of TN M. Karunanidhi gave enormous publicity to the then fledgling fortnightly Tamil magazine Thuglak and Cho Ramaswamy, the then editor of the magazine, for publishing a news item on the procession of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) headed by E.V. Ramasamy (EVR) in January 1971, portraying obscene images of Lord Muruga, Lord Iyappa and Lord Ram. Instead of acting against the perpetrators of this heinous act, the then M. Karunanidhi government seized copies of Thuglak in February 1971, which gave enormous publicity to Thuglak and Mr Ramaswamy. What Rajinikanth told was the facts to the core and in fact he highlighted the way Mr Ramaswamy and Thuglak gained prominence in TN and nothing against EVR or Karunanidhi. The despicable portrayal of Hindu gods in the Salem procession was also covered in the Indian Express, Dinamani and the Hindu. However, the deputy CM of TN, O. Panneerselvam, DMK chief M.K. Stalin, Puducherry CM V. Narayanasamy, TN minister D. Jayakumar, Vaiko, TN Congress president K.S. Alagiri and leaders of fringe parties reacted so sharply against Rajinikanth for just uttering the facts. Given this, one would expect that the reaction this time would be much more aggressive as Rajinikanth made his observations on the CAA and NCR.

What is happening in TN? Why this outcry? Will the condemnation for Rajinikanth by political parties stop with these two incidents? Certainly not. Rajinikanth already announced that he will start his political party in 2020 and would contest in the TN Assembly elections in May 2021. Both AIADMK and DMK have been ruling TN, giving no space for any other party in the last 50 years. The Congress and Communist parties and other marginal players have been satisfied with the titbits thrown at them by either AIADMK or DMK, when being part of the alliance. No political party, including the ones founded recently, have managed to become an alternative to AIADMK and DMK in the last 50 years. The Congress has decayed with hardly any presence and BJP has been unable to expand its limited presence. It is this background that gives enormous confidence to both AIADMK and DMK that they can remain dominant players in TN politics, despite not having a charismatic and effective leadership at the helm.

If Rajinikanth forms a party and contests elections, it is not impossible for either AIADMK or DMK to win in the hustings, although he may pose a challenge to both. If anti-incumbency against the AIADMK government is a boon for DMK, AIADMK has strong cadre strength. DMK already hired Prashant Kishor, a brahmin election expert from Bihar to devise a strategy for the 2021 TN elections at a monthly payment of `15 crores and thereby achieved its long-cherished dream of ethnic cleansing of brahmins from TN. Moreover, both the parties and their cadres have mastered the art of bribing voters with a scientific approach in the previous election to get sizable votes in their favour. They even bought the Left parties, which are ideologically unassailable. The DMK paid `10 crores to the CPI(M) and `15 crores to the CPI officially before the 2019 elections and both parties are grateful to the DMK, at least till the 2021 Assembly elections. A small portion of the booty both these parties and their cadres accumulated in the last 50 years is more than enough to execute a “bribe for vote” scheme. Rajinikanth has none of these advantages. Even today, the AIADMK and DMK put together have a voteshare of 80 per cent of the TN electorate. Despite being in such an advantageous position, why do both the DMK and AIADMK bay for the blood of Rajinikanth on every occasion?

A big list of omissions and commissions of these two parties in the last 50 years constitute simmering anger for the sizable electorate of TN. However, no political party has reached a level to become an alternative to these two parties, so that the election contest truly becomes three-cornered. But if a clear third alternative is available before the electorate, one cannot pre-conclude that the electorate of TN will continue to choose either AIADMK or DMK giving a simple majority to either one of them because they are dominant today.

The fact of the matter is that AIADMK and DMK formed a powerful lobby of media owners and personnel, owners of educational institutions, government employees, people who amassed wealth by exploiting natural resources illegally, some sections of lawyers and the judiciary and fringe elements who speak against the sovereignty of India. This lobby has been given liberal concessions by the powers-that-be and this powerful lobby has been reciprocating as much as possible to ensure that there is no third force emerging and becoming strong in TN, challenging either DMK or AIADMK. Rajinikanth has no choice other than to face unprecedented opposition not only from AIADMK and DMK but also from this lobby till the 2021 TN Assembly elections.

Rajinikanth’s speech, silence, action and inaction till the 2021 TN Assembly elections will be used to tarnish the image of Rajinikanth and assassinate his character. The DK has already made a police complaint against Rajinikanth and filed a petition in the Madras HC on the speech made by Rajinikanth in Thuglak’s function, which was withdrawn to give the police more time to investigate and act against Rajinikanth. The Indian Express, Dinamani and the Hindu published news on the procession carried out by the DK under EVR in 1971 and the resolution passed therein and had to face a court case from one Chokkappa of DK who claimed that these newspapers defamed him and his party and hence action should be taken against them. Given the influence of DK and DMK in judiciary then and even now, the Madras HC accepted the case filed by Chokkappa and passed orders to that effect. It was only after the appeal in the Supreme Court by the three newspapers, the SC set aside the orders of Madras HC. When Annadurai was the CM of TN, a magazine published a news item that a lady, who gave birth to a girl child, mentioned in the hospital records that the child’s father was the then public works department (PWD) minister. But the publisher had to face a defamation case in court by the then PWD minister and was sentenced to imprisonment. Rajinikanth may also have to face plenty of legal entanglemant for whatever he says irrespective of whether it stands the scrutiny of law ultimately. Let the electorate decide whether Rajinikanth is an alternative to both AIADMK and DMK. Rajinikanth has been very firm first on his speech in Thuglak’s function that he will not apologise and then on his observations on CAA and NCR. Rajinikanth proved since January 2020 that he has enormous mettle and tenacity to be in politics and that is the bad news for DMK and AIADMK.

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