Film star and aspiring politician Rajinikanth on Thursday held consultations with office-bearers of his fan clubs or makkal mandrams ( People’s Fora) on launching his political party ahead of the next State Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu due by March next year.
The consultation, held at his Raghevendra Kalyana Mandapam, lasted two hours. Speculation is rife that he may launch his party by July. If and when he launches his party, Rajini plans to co-opt retired bureaucrats and senior politicians as members and not fill it with fans alone.
This is his third such meeting with fan clubs since he announced his intention to enter politics in the middle of 2017, months after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha.
He has said there is a vacuum in the State after the passing of Jayalalitha and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi and he will enter the field with the promise of good governance. He has made no secret of his pro-BJP leanings and pro-establishment leanings.
For example, he condemned the violence in Thoothukudi on the 100th day of the people’s agitation against Sterlite plant which led to police firing and death of 13 men and women. He did not condemn police excesses, but blamed the agitation on alleged agent provocateurs.
He has dodged personal appearance before the Aruna Jagadeesan’s probe commission going into the incident, but instead sought exemption from personal appearance. He has said he is ready to answer if questions are mailed to him. In other words, he does not want to face cross-examination by critics of his statement including People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
He did not comment on the ongoing Shaheen Bagh protests by Muslim women in New Delhi but said the Citizenship Amendment Act was a law passed by Parliament and so it should be supported. He also dismissed as baseless fears of Muslims that they might citizenship, citing assurances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that Indian Muslims would not be affected by the consequent steps of National Population Survey and National Register of Citizens.
Again, he defended the police lathcharge of Muslim women and men in Washermenpet in Chennai during anti-CAA protests, saying no quarter should be given to violence, though there was no violence that day. Later representatives of some Muslim organisations met him and briefed him about the implications of the CAA, NRC and NPR, but just gave them hearing without committing himself one way or the other.
He did not comment on the riots in New Delhi.
Rajini is acting in tandem with the BJP’s game plan to come to power in the State in alliance with the AIADMK and his party. If the last Lok Sabha elections are any indication, it is not going to be easy as the DMK front swept and the AIADMK and its allies, including the BJP, drew a blank. The only winner from the AIADMK was Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son Raveendranath from Theni, their home district.