Is BJP planning to make Thalaiva its face in Tamil Nadu?

Is BJP planning to make Thalaiva its face in Tamil Nadu?

Submitted by Kumuda on Sat, 2016-12-10 18:54 Bengaluru:  The visits of many central ministers to Tamil Nadu in the aftermath of the passing away of Amma indicates that the BJP is sensing an opportunity in the southern state. As long as Jayalalithaa was alive, the BJP had no chance in Tamil Nadu. Now in the vacuum created by her untimely death, the BJP is said to be planning a major bid for power in Tamil Nadu and has decided to co-opt one of the biggest mass distraction weapons there is – the only and only Thalaiva. Rajinikanth, born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, a Marathi-speaker born in Bengaluru, has now been embraced by Tamil Nadu. The super star, who has never hidden his religious and spiritual inclinations, is an ideal catch for the BJP. Rajini has shown support for Narendra Modi, although he has not campaigned for the BJP, at least so far. Rajinikanth is probably the most popular film star ever in Tamil Nadu, barring MGR. Rajini has dominated the Tamil film scene for a quarter century now. Barring a couple, all of his films have been super hits.  After the passing away of Amma, he is probably the tallest figure in Tamil Nadu, which, for a sad teeming with talent in diverse fields, cannot throw up tall leaders in politics. For two decades or more, there has been anticipation that he will enter politics on behalf of either of the two Dravidian parties. That did not happen.  There was one time when Jayalalithaa and Rajini were on the opposite sides of the fence. Once during her first term as chief minister, Amma had the entrance to Poes Garden barricaded by police. Rajini, who too lives in Poes Garden, sat on a dharna till the police removed the barricades. That confrontation set tongues wagging, that he may be entering politics to challenge her. But Rajini backed out for reasons not known.  But now with Amma gone, the BJP is learnt to be persuading him to enter politics on its behalf. Whether he will do so is a question that is not likely to be answered soon. There are still four years to go for the state assembly election.  Whether or not he takes the plunge, it is beyond comprehension for outsiders as to how non-Tamilians come to dominate Tamil film industry and politics.  After C N Annadurai and V R Nedunchezhiyan as Chief ministers during 1969, only non-Tamilians have ruled Tamil Nadu as chief ministers and Tamilians have also accepted these politicians.  During 1969 after the president rule M Karunanidhi, who was born as Telugu took over the Chief Ministers seat and ruled Tamil Nadu for the for the first time as a non-Tamil Chief minister. This trend was continued by M G Ramachandran, a Nair Malayali born in Sri Lanka.  MGR took over as chief minister in 1977, and had three terms in office till his death in 1987. After his death, his wife Janaki Ramachandran and VR Nedunchezhiyan were in office as acting chief minister.  In the 1989 elections to the assembly, DMK's M Karunanidhi again took over the seat and held CM's chair till Jan 30, 1991, when President’s Rule was imposed on the state. In the elections held in June that year, Jayalalithaa stormed to power. After five years in power, during which Jayalalithaa made some tactical and strategic mistakes, in 1996, Karunanidhi led DMK back to power. Five years of messy rule later, Karunanidhi lost power to Jayalalithaa in 2001.  Given the Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee nature of Tamil Nadu politics, In the musical chairs of Tamil Nadu politics, she lost power again in 2006. Five years later, in 2011, Jayalalithaa returned to power again, only to resign a short time later, indicted in a disproportionate assets case. O Paneerselvam kept the seat warm till Amma returned to power some time later.  Chastened by her experiences, Jayalalithaa gave a better administration this time around. The result was that she returned to power with a crushing majority early this year. The AIADMK has a little over four years in power to go, and whether O Paneerselvam as chief minister and Sasikala as the power behind the throne can keep the party in power for that long remains to be seen. But the BJP seems to be preparing for the battle. Drafting Rajini as its face in Tamil Nadu would give it an edge over other parties that don’t have charismatic leaders. AIADMK can only feature Jaya on its posters. The DMK has no star power. PMK’s only appeal is caste. Vijayakanth, who heads DMDK has proved that he doesn’t have what it takes. The other parties too marginalized to be considered. In that void, the BJP feels it can have that edge with Thalaiva. But the question is whether Thalaiva will play the ball? Is he up to it? Does he anticipate his non-Tamil roots to be made an issue by other parties? Or will he take the plunge?