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Is Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan star combo the new political force Tamil Nadu needs?

Actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan announced Tuesday that they are ready to “join hands if the need arises” to serve the people of Tamil Nadu.

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Actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan announced Tuesday that they are ready to “join hands if the need arises” to serve the people of Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth had earlier commented on the political vacuum after the deaths of J. Jayalalithaa and M.K. Karunanidhi. The announcement surprised many because the two stars had so far appeared to be from opposing ideologies.

ThePrint asks: Is Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan star combo the new political force Tamil Nadu needs?

Entering politics just before elections not practical. Won’t be easy for Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth

Sumanth Raman
Political analyst 

What Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan said were only generic statements about working together for the welfare of the state. Both of them are ideologically different. Haasan has an almost Communist bent of mind, while Rajinikanth is closer to the Right. Moreover, Haasan is deeply rooted in his Dravidian ideologies whereas Rajini is not.

Times have changed. M.G. Ramachandran or MGR wasn’t as scrutinised by people on social media.

Even though Kamal Haasan’s party MNM got a reasonable vote-share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it was a protest vote against the larger parties in Tamil Nadu – the DMK and the AIADMK.

If one were to compare the political space today to Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa’s time, then yes, Tamil Nadu has a political vacuum now. The idea of entering politics right before elections may not be practical. It took 10 years for Jayalalithaa to get the CM’s chair, and 20 years for MGR.

The AIADMK has also clawed back since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and they also won the last two by-elections by a huge margin. So, I don’t think contesting elections is going to be easy if Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan comes together. The assumption that a star combo will sweep the elections may not be a valid one.

Moreover, it is highly unlikely that their rival fan bases will gel well for the sake of serving the state.

On politics, it seems like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth have run out of gas even before starting

Kovai Sathyan
Spokesperson, AIADMK

Even though Kamal Haasan has started a political party, Rajinikanth is only in the process of starting one. This should only be perceived as a friendship alliance, which will put their leadership qualities to test.

But it seems like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth have run out of gas even before starting. They are not capable of leading a political party on their own. I am sure people won’t take this news as seriously as the media is taking it.

There exists an ideological disparity between Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. They can only shield themselves under one common statement: ‘for the welfare of Tamil Nadu’. Other than that, I don’t see any common ground between the two. Rajinikanth’s fans have been dreaming about how he will form a political party one day. However, joining hands with Kamal Haasan will not go down well with his fans.

Some people might enjoy a great fan following but that segment doesn’t necessarily come out and vote in elections. This is a pan-India issue.

On the question of whether they pose a threat, the Dravidian ideology is a mix and match of several thoughts. The AIADMK is a fusion of different branches of thought: capitalist, Dravidian, Communist, and more. Dravidian ideology is also constantly undergoing changes and it will be hard for them to give it a makeover.

There is a need for them to go by the current trends and plan for the state, than fall short and look for help from someone else.

Premature to assess whether Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan star combo will impact Tamil Nadu politics

Ravikumar D

Kamal Haasan may have launched a political party, contested elections, but he hasn’t been able to create any substantial impact. Rajinikanth is yet to launch his political party. It is premature to assess whether the Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan star combo will have any impact on Tamil Nadu politics.

Politics is different from cinema. Rajinikanth is in the last phase of his film career and most of his recent movies have been tanking at the box office. He is coming into politics late in life. If Rajinikanth does launch his political party next year, when he will be 71, how long he will be able to endure political struggles?

There is no chance for them to form an alliance with any political party, since the DMK and the AIADMK already have their own alliance partners. Anyone who forms a new political party must face elections solo and prove their strength or risk playing a secondary role in politics.

As far as Rajinikanth’s electoral prospects are concerned, there is only one possibility: the BJP coming forward with him as the CM candidate.

However, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan’s fan followings won’t translate into their vote-bank.

Rajinikanth won’t be able to fill political vacuum without backing of a strong force like BJP

Ramu Manivannan
and head of Department of Politics & Public Administration, University of Madras, Chennai

I don’t see Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan as political forces. Having launched a political party, Haasan has made a start, while Rajinikanth has so far only spoken about ‘spiritual’ politics. But people know that the BJP is behind Rajinikanth.

The fact that Haasan says he wouldn’t mind working with Rajinikanth can be seen as a clear sign of the BJP trying to create a B-team in Tamil Nadu politics. But the question is whether the duo can be seen as a political force to reckon with.

I am sure that the people of Tamil Nadu are unlikely to see them as offering an alternative. People view them in a different light compared to MGR or Jayalalithaa.

Moreover, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan aren’t going to determine the survival of the Dravidian ideology, rather they will have to struggle for their own survival. There is always a scope for transition, but the leadership vacuum must be filled by the political establishment. Rajinikanth does not have the ability to fill the political vacuum without the backing of a strong force like the BJP, maybe in the form of a coalition.

Haasan and Rajinikanth will also have to explain their ideological differences to people. They will have to work very hard to win votes. I feel that Rajinikanth is underprepared to face this electoral trial. I doubt his fan base will add to the vote-bank; one might like someone as an actor but not vote for him as a political leader.

Alliance can be win-win deal for Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, both struggling to find a place in Tamil Nadu politics

Aananth Daksnamurthy

Aananth Daksnamurthy
Business analyst, ThePrint 

The possibility of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan coming together is a twist in the tale because Dravidian parties like the DMK and the AIADMK have for long associated Rajinikanth with Right-wing ideology. This could turn out to be a formidable alliance if both of them can find a common ground to work with despite their differences.

This alliance can prove to be a win-win deal for both because they have been struggling to find a place in Tamil Nadu’s political set-up dominated by Dravidian parties. Kamal Haasan will benefit from the organised cadre strength of the Rajini Makkal Mandram.

Rajinikanth’s Right-wing image could diminish due to Kamal Haasan’s presence. Kamal Haasan running for the post of chief minister in this probable alliance will also make a huge difference. Two superstars coming together to test the waters is the only time we will know whether the people of Tamil Nadu have lost faith in the two Dravidian parties and film star-turned-politicians. There could be some downsides to this alliance. This will also depend on the reactions of their respective fan bases to this alliance.

Also read: Kamal Haasan – the atheist who divided India into Godse supporters and Godse shamers this week

By Kairvy Grewal, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. Politics is more than a full time job. With both of them still signing up films, there is no way they will get any traction. At best they will together poll 8 to 10% of the votes and spoil the chances for the mainstream parties

  2. Both gentlemen – I like the old world word, thespians – have left their entry into politics for too late. At the end of their movie careers, when the magic of the box office has begun to fade. Building a political machine is enormously expensive. Tamil Nadu is a fertile field for Comrade Stalin to take over, if he has inherited some of his father’s greatness.

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