BJP's attempts to embrace Rajinikanth may be a spoiler

BJP's attempts to embrace Rajinikanth may be a spoiler

Overt display of enthusiasm by BJP leaders, particularly those of the party's Tamil Nadu unit, towards superstar Rajinikanth's political debut may be premature. It may even act as a spoiler when he wants to be extremely cautious and take one step at a time, say party insiders.

Almost appearing to be jumping the gun, Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan told the media that the actor's proposed party will be an NDA ally in 2019.

But Rajinikanth himself has not given any such indication. He would rather, as declared by him,  keep  his plans under wraps for a year from now. First, he  would rather establish a credible platform by reviving his fans associations across Tamil Nadu.  Till then, Rajinikanth has stated that nobody belonging to his set-up would even make any political comment or commitment.

However, it is no secret that Rajinikanth was openly urged by BJP leaders over a period of time to take the plunge into politics. The time seems right for him to try and fill the vacuum caused by the demise of former chief minister Jayalalithaa and retirement of DMK chief M Karunanidhi from active politics.  

In his December 31 announcement, Rajinikanth described his advent in politics as being motivated by a "spiritual drive" rather than by a personal ambition to capture power. He even pointed to his rejection of an offer from the then opposition to Jayalalithaa in 1996 to lead them.

Rajinikanth's appeal to voters to reject the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa for corruption  then helped the DMK-Tamil Maanila Congress (a breakaway Congress group led by G K Moopanar) to capture power.

This time, Rajinikanth's call for a "spiritual quotient" in politics has been read by political leaders as akin to the BJP's 'hindutva' appeal. After Rajinikanth's debut, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy even tweeted that his spiritual politics "is nearer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's than to any one else in Tamil Nadu or outside."

Advocating honesty in politics and good governance, Rajinikanth has said, "everything needs to be changed" and declared that "spiritual politics" needs to be ushered in without any caste or religion bias.

Incidentally, Rajinikanth's announcement comes at a time when the anti-BJP rhetoric in Tamil Nadu politics has reached a peak. Many parties in the state have been criticising   Modi for his policies, including his drive against black money.

In November, Modi caused a flutter when he paid a surprise visit on Karunanidhi for what was described as a courtesy call. That gesture led to a number of speculations including whether the BJP was opening up to the DMK. It was assumed that Modi and the BJP were of the view that the AIADMK was disintegrating despite merger of two factions under O Panneerselvam and Chief Minister E Palanisamy.

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