Rajini's decision brings back status quo in TN politics

Rajinikanth's decision brings back status quo in Tamil Nadu politics

With Rajinikanth exiting politics, DMK and AIADMK would now get a chance to indulge in negotiations with their alliance partners

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth not entering politics has come as a major relief for Dravidian majors – DMK and AIADMK – who will continue to dominate the political arena in Tamil Nadu, albeit for now.

Not only they have one competitor less now, but Rajinikanth backing out on his plans of launching a political party will also give enough room for the DMK and AIADMK to indulge in tough negotiations with their alliance partners.

Also Read | Rajinikanth: From a definite announcement to the withdrawal

While the impact that Rajinikanth could have made if he had indeed taken the political plunge is anybody's guess, his entry would have ruffled many feathers in Tamil Nadu politics, controlled by the two political parties since 1967 when the DMK came to power for the first time overthrowing Congress regime.

Simply put, the status quo has returned to Tamil Nadu.

The 2021 elections will be yet another fight between DMK and AIADMK to capture Fort St. George, the seat of power of the Tamil Nadu government, with actor Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) of AIADMK rebel T T V Dhinakaran, and Tamil nationalist party, Naam Tamizhar, on the sidelines.

Also Read | Rajinikanth's decision to not enter politics pushes BJP back to square one in Tamil Nadu

BJP, which hardly has any electoral base in the state, was pinning its hopes on Rajinikanth to ride on his shoulders and make inroads in Tamil Nadu. Now that the actor has made it categorical that politics is not his cup of tea, the BJP now has no choice other than continuing its alliance with the AIADMK and fighting the DMK in the April-May assembly polls by accepting its leadership.

Though DMK and AIADMK put up a brave face in public that Rajinikanth's entry would not have any impact on their prospects, the two parties were worried about the extent of damage that the actor could have made. Rajinikanth projected himself as an alternative to the Dravidian majors and promised to practice “spiritual politics” which many interpreted as a “soft version” of Hindutva.

Also Read | Rajinikanth misses date with politics; not to launch political party

“Even if he had got just five percent of votes, that would have been at the expense of either of the parties. So, there is every reason for them to be relieved and feel happy,” a political analyst said on condition of anonymity.

The news is even sweeter for Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who can now assert the AIADMK's authority as the leader of the alliance. The analyst said that the 2021 assembly elections are most likely to see a repeat of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in which the major players were the alliances led by DMK and AIADMK.

“The development is certainly good for the DMK which looks poised to form the next government in Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth's decision not to enter politics will certainly increase DMK's bargaining power with its allies, including Congress. DMK will negotiate tough and ensure that its allies fall in line,” senior journalist R Bhagwan Singh told DH.

Prof. Ramu Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, said Rajinikanth's decision has put the BJP in its place in Tamil Nadu. “The BJP, now, has to look for new alignments to create a base for itself in the Dravidian land. While it is certainly a setback for the BJP, I do not think the party will give up just like that. They will try to find a space for them as they are looking at a long haul here,” he told DH.