Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Sunday said that he will not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He also made it clear that he would not support any party in the polls.
“No one should use my photo or flags in the name of Rajini Makkal Mandram and Rajini Fan Club to support or campaign for any party,” the 68-year-old actor said in a statement.
Rajinikanth asked the people to vote for a party which will form a strong government at the Centre and will work towards solving Tamil Nadu’s water problem.
Rajinikanth’s stand on certain issues had led to speculations that he might extend support to the BJP in 2019. After meeting 32 district secretaries of the Rajini Makkal Mandram on Sunday at this Poes Garden house, he came out with an announcement saying that the RMM will not contest the Lok Sabha polls.
“We are not going to contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Elections are our single target,” Rajinikanth’s statement said.
The Tamil superstar had announced his political entry on New Year’s Eve 2018 and was expected to announce the launch of his political party last year on December 12, his birthday. But Rajinikanth said that he was in no hurry. “We don’t have any plan to launch the party and introduce the flag on my birthday. It will take some more time as we have to complete certain works and be ready.”
The actor had said that a vacuum prevails in Tamil Nadu politics after the demise of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.
With this statement on the Tamil Nadu’s water concerns, analysts say that Rajinikanth is indirectly pressing his followers to vote for BJP. Rajinikanth had spoken in favour of linking rivers in the early 2000s. He had also observed a hunger strike and came forward to give Rs 1 crore for the river linking scheme.
“BJP’s Nitin Gadkari has been speaking about the Godavari and Cauvery linkage. The Congress has not spoken anything about the river linkage projects. So, it is clear that Rajini wants his supporters to vote for BJP,” said Selvaraj Sankaraiah, senior political journalist. He further said that the anti-BJP mood in Tamil Nadu forced the actor to reveal his position indirectly.
However, Tharaasu Shyam, another political analyst says that Rajini’s comments mean that he is batting for regional parties. “Cauvery water is the major issue in Tamil Nadu. Since the Congress and the BJP have a better footing in Karnataka than Tamil Nadu, they are likely to consider the interests of Karnataka first. So, Rajini might have opted for TN’s regional parties,” said Shyam.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP sees superstar’s comments differently. Rajini’s statement is not against our party. The people of Tamil Nadu know who is strong in the Centre now and which party has sorted out the water issue. Rajini has taken the right decision. We take this announcement in a positive way,” said Tamilisai Sounderrarajan, Tamil Nadu BJP chief.
Amid the speculation of his party launch, Rajinikanth had last year unveiled a 36-page ‘Blue Book’. It contains 25 main clauses and outlines the dos and don’ts for his followers and his fan club the Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM or Rajini Fans’ Association). Most observers expected RMM to be converted into a political party. His fellow Tamil movie star, Kamal Haasan, has already launched a party called Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).