Y. Satyanarayana

Superstar Rajinikanth has finally made his big political move. With one giant stride he has moved on to the centrestage of Tamil Nadu and national politics. On the last day of his fan meet programme at Raghavendra Mandapam in Chennai the other day, the iconic star made his seismic announcement which will rock Tamil Nadu and change its political landscape forever. By confirming that his entry into the political scene is “definite”, the superstar finally put the lid on endless rounds of speculation. The Kollywood Thalaivar is also reported to have added that it was the “need of the time”.

The run-up to Rajinikanth’s big announcement was similar to the build-up of films and their release which we see these days. It was heightened by the fact that for the past many years, there has been a lot of uncertainty around Rajinikanth's entry into politics. The 'will he-won't he' question kept going round endlessly in a tiring loop.

Never in the past five decades, has the political situation in Tamil Nadu been as fluid and dynamic as it currently is. J Jayalalithaa's demise has left a huge void which is proving hard to fill. With the OPS-EPS factions of AIADMK coming together to keep Sasikala and company at bay and not always succeeding as Dhinakaran's resounding victory in the R.K. Nagar bye-election tells us, the instability factor has become even more grave. DMK's aging patriarch, Karunanidhi, is no longer the force he once was in TN politics and Stalin's career hasn't quite taken off, as he would have expected. Azhagiri, Stalin's older brother, has been reduced to a political non-entity, presiding over a rump of a faction.

So, in these circumstances, Rajinikanth's announcement of a fresh political alternative holds out the promise of stability more than anything else. If Rajinikanth has to be complimented for taking the big leap, he deserves accolades for sheer timing, more than anything else.

Kamal Haasan tweeted--“I welcome brother Rajini’s sense of social responsibility and political entry,” on Rajinikanth's entry into politics. Similarly, S. Gurumurthy, ideologically close to the ruling BJP tweeted-- “Rajini's entry into TN politics will hopefully bring about tectonic changes in the 60-year-old frozen Dravidian politics. His spiritual politics is nearer to Modi’ s than to any one else in Tamil Nadu or outside, hinting a tie-up with the BJP. Meanwhile, Rajinikanth has announced that his political outfit will transcend all barriers of caste, group, region and religion.

Kamal Hasan has for some time been taking baby steps in politics, though he is not a major force in TN politics, as yet. Even if Rajinikanth took ages to come on to the political stage, there is no doubt that he has launched himself with a bang. Though it is difficult to predict the outcome of this political rivalry between these two stars, Rajini seems to have more muscle, also because he is seemingly backed by the BJP which is trying to gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu.

Does this mean that the celebrated Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan rivalry of Tamil cinema will play out openly in the political arena now? That appears a real possibility, but any seasoned punter would lay his bets on Thalaivar because his larger-than-life image, as also his earthiness establishes an instant connect with the masses. Kamal Haasan, on the other hand, is seen as more of a high-brow figure in politics. Therefore, time will soon reveal as to who will dominate Tamil Nadu politics in the months to come. The billion dollar question with respect to Tamil Nadu is--Who will emerge victorious in the iconic Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan political face-off?