Beyond livening up the political scene in Tamil Nadu and creating a buzz that has all the other political parties in the state worried, the recent statements by Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth may not end up in anything substantial.
That politics makes strange bedfellows is an old adage. In the topsy-turvy world of Tamil Nadu politics, alliances between ideologically-opposed political parties is hardly a new phenomenon. Yet the recent flutter created by a couple of statements on either side hinting at a possible coming together of the two megastars of Tamil cinema, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, well and truly stirred the political pot in the state.
Haasan is of course a politician already with his party, Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) making its electoral debut in the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year and putting up a decent show in some urban areas of the state. Rajinikanth as he often points out is yet to formally enter politics though he has promised to do so in time for the next assembly elections in Tamil Nadu where he has pledged that his to-be-formed party will contest all 234 assembly seats.
Until recently, and even now by many, Rajinikanth is seen as being soft on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Not too long ago he compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah to Krishna and Arjuna of the Mahabharata, and he has been reluctant to criticise the central government on its failings on the economy.
A few weeks ago he suddenly came out with a statement that an attempt was being made by some to paint him saffron and that he would not fall for such attempts. This was immediately taken to indicate that he was trying to distance himself from the BJP though in true Rajinikanth style the statement was only a cryptic one.
Ideologically Haasan and Rajinikanth are poles apart. Haasan is a rationalist with views on a host of issues not too far from that of the Communist parties. Rajinikanth is a staunch believer, has said he will espouse spiritual politics (whatever that means) and is widely believed to be Right-of-Centre. Also the fan bases of the two stars have been rivals for decades though the two stars themselves have maintained a good friendship between them.
Rajinikanth is also known in the past to make political statements a month or two before the release of his movies and with his next movie, Darbar slated for a possible January release there are those who accuse him of cosying up to Haasan to draw more attention to his forthcoming film.
Indeed the statement that “if required” the two could come together to work for the welfare of the people of the state, which is in effect what both of them have said so far, is not a clear indication or commitment to any kind of an alliance. Yet this very acknowledgment by both the stars within hours of each other sent media speculation into a frenzy.
What impact such a possible alliance between the two will have in Tamil Nadu politics is hard to say with certainty. The direction of the political winds in the state have been changing so quickly that with almost 18 months to go for the next scheduled assembly elections it would be foolhardy to hazard a guess on the impact a Kamal-Rajini combo would have at the hustings.
Less than eight months ago the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Congress alliance swept the state in the Lok Sabha polls. Yet within months they were routed by a resurgent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in two assembly by-elections. For the BJP though Rajinikanth's recent statements will be a cause for concern. It has been widely believed that his entry would somehow be to the advantage of the BJP even if he did not directly have an alliance with them. Do they now exert pressure on him to align with them or to back off from his political entry altogether? A Kamal-Rajini combination if indeed it is formed could cause sizable electoral damage to the AIADMK and by inference to its current alliance partner the BJP.
However, the odds are still heavily against the political coming together of the two stars. For that to happen ideology may not be a barrier (it hardly ever has been in Indian politics), but other more mundane issues could prove insurmountable. Who the leader of such a combine and by inference, the CM face would be could well trigger the start of discord. Also, the stated position on a number of issues that have triggered agitations in the state in the last two years have been different. Haasan has supported several of the agitations while Rajinikanth has said that frequent agitations will turn the state into a graveyard. Also, where the two will find the money to fund their parties is another unanswered question. Neither of them has as yet a well-defined and popular nor even acceptable second-rung leadership (though to be fair, Rajinikanth is yet to start a party).
Beyond livening up the political scene in Tamil Nadu and creating a buzz that has all the other political parties in the state worried, the recent statements by Haasan and Rajinikanth may not end up in anything substantial. For now they have set the cat among the pigeons. Let none accuse Tamil Nadu politics of being dull, even for a few months.Sumanth Raman is a Chennai-based television anchor and political analyst. Views are personal.Are you happy with your current monthly income? Do you know you can double it without working extra hours or asking for a raise? Rahul Shah, one of the India's leading expert on wealth building, has created a strategy which makes it possible... in just a short few years. You can know his secrets in his FREE video series airing between 12th to 17th December. You can reserve your free seat here.