Superstar-turned-politician Rajinikanth won't contest Lok Sabha elections
Superstar Rajinikanth, who took the plunge into politics last year, clarified on Sunday he would not contest the upcoming general elections. In a statement, the 68-year-old screen idol said neither he nor members of his Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM) would fight the elections. He also asked parties to not use his name or his party's symbol for campaigning. The elections are due in April-May.
Rajinikanth, whose recent statements hinted he might swing towards BJP, said he would not support any party or alliance. He asked office bearers and cadres of RMM to vote for the candidates who would solve Tamil Nadu's problems. "Vote for the people who will provide a stable government in the Centre and provide a permanent solution to the state's water crisis," he said.
BJP which has been trying hard to cement its position in Tamil Nadu got a boost of sorts when Rajinikanth spoke in its favor. In November last year, the superstar took on the grand alliance by saying, "If 10 people are ganging up against one, imagine who is powerful. You can decide." He even said if opposition thinks so, BJP "must be dangerous".
As his statement created an uproar in political circles, Rajinikanth clarified his remark. He said it is for people to decide if BJP is dangerous or not. "BJP is dangerous for the opposition parties. I do not want to give my personal opinion on it," he had said. Rajinikanth's quick clarification after his apparent support proved he was interested in taking a neutral stand.
Then in December, after BJP was handed over defeat in Hindi heartland states, Rajinikanth said the results showed BJP was losing its influence. However, speculations that BJP might strike a deal with RMM became rife after PM Modi said in January that doors of the party are open for all. He recalled former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's "successful coalition politics" of the 1990s.
While Rajinikanth decided to stay away from upcoming elections, his colleague Kamal Haasan didn't. Haasan, who joined politics around the same time Rajinikanth did, said in December last year that his party Makkal Needhi Maiam will field candidates. Announcing his decision, Haasan said he might join hands with "like-minded parties", but won't entertain those who want to change "Tamil Nadu's DNA".