BJP jolted by Rajinikanth’s decision

Saffron party banked on the actor’s fan following to break into Tamil Nadu politics.

The announcement by film actor and superstar Rajinikanth on Tuesday morning that he would not, as he had earlier declared, be launching a political party, took many by surprise, with the BJP hoping that even if not through a formal political party, the star would throw his influence behind the NDA in Tamil Nadu ahead of Assembly polls early next year.

Speaking to The Hindu, C T Ravi, the BJP’s national general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu said Mr. Rajinikanth’s decision was his private affair but that the NDA was still hoping for a declaration of support from the latter, despite the cancelled plans for a political party.

“As to why Rajinikanthji decided not to float his own political party, is a personal decision by him, but, I very much hope and expect that in the interest of the country and Tamil Nadu he will extend support to the NDA. As a member of the BJP it is my hope that his considerable influence is with us,” Mr Ravi said.

Mr. Rajinikanth had, a few weeks ago, announced that he would be announcing the launch of a political party on December 31. But citing his sudden hospitalisation last week following a health scare and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the actor released a statement that he had decided to go back on that decision, apologising to his fans and the Rajini Makkal Mandram (RNM) an organisation formed to help launch the proposed political party.

The BJP had hoped that the charismatic actor would add his considerable popularity to its efforts while many in the rival camps questioned his political moorings and ideological leanings. The party has tied up with the ruling AIADMK for the upcoming Assembly polls, and while it hasn’t on its own managed much traction on the ground, it was counting on Mr. Rajinikanth’s massive fan following to introduce a third element in the largely bipolar polity of the State. That hope is now over.

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