By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai: Today’s movie stars are tomorrow’s political leaders and Chief Ministerial aspirants — that is the trend in Tamil Nadu.
The latest to join that club is actor Rajinikanth, who on Thursday announced his decision to float a political party in January 2021.
With this Rajinikanth puts an end to various speculations about his plunge into Tamil Nadu politics.
Announcing this in a tweet he added: “In the upcoming assembly polls, with people’s massive support, in Tamil Nadu, an honest, transparent corruption less, secular and spiritual politics is sure to happen.”
“Miracle, Wonder will happen,” he added.
Speaking to reporters here Rajinikanth said: “The time has come to change the fate of Tamil Nadu. Political and government change in the state important. It will surely change. The political change is important and is compulsion of time. If not now, it is not possible ever. Everything has to be changed. We will change everything.”
He appealed to all to support him to bring in the change.
“I am just a small instrument in the change. If I win then it is people’s victory,” he added.
With five chief ministers in the last five decades from the Tamil movie world, the way to the political power in Tamil Nadu is through tinsel town.
Five of the state’s chief ministers – C.N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), Janaki Ramachandran and J. Jayalalitha – had their roots in filmdom, while several other actors showed an interest in politics.
However, the trend of movie hero turning into a mass political leader was started by MGR who broke away from DMK and to float All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and went on to become the state Chief Minister.
In the upcoming 2021 Tamil Nadu assembly polls, the movie heroes who will be contesting would be: Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and A. Vijaykant.
While Annadurai and Karunanidhi were involved in writing the story, screenplay and dialogues of movies, it was MGR who became the first actor-turned-Chief Minister.
The state has seen and is seeing several actor-turned-politicians like the late Sivaji Ganesan, T. Rajendar, M. Karthik, Vijayakanth with the DMDK, Sarathkumar with his All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, Director and actor Seeman with his Naam Tamilar Katchi and recently Kamal Haasan floating the MNM.
There are several other actors like R. Ramarajan, Vagai Chandrasekhar, Napoleon, Khushbu, C.R. Saraswathi, Anantharaaj, Radha Ravi and others who have joined the AIADMK, the DMK and the BJP.
Barring MGR and Jayalalithaa, no other actor has captured power in the state fighting elections.
In 1972 MGR broke away from DMK and floated AIADMK and in 1977 captured power in the state in 1977. He continued to be the state Chief Minister till his death in 1987.
He was succeeded by his wife Janaki Ramachandran and latter by J. Jayalalithaa, a popular heroine in Tamil movies.
In 2005, Vijaykant, an action hero known to perform stunts in movies without a double, floated his DMDK party as an alternative to the two dominant Dravidian parties — the AIADMK and the DMK.
“Vijaykant had his fan club in nook and corner of the state. The set up was great and it was converted into a political party. He had developed the fan club like a political party set up,” political analyst Kolahala Srenivaas told IANS.
When he fought the 2006 assembly polls alone without aligning with any party, the DMDK notched up an impressive vote share, better than even the established MDMK and PMK.
In the 2006 assembly polls the party contested in all the 234 assembly elections and got about 10 per cent vote share. Barring Vijayakant who won from Virudhachalam seat, all other party candidates lost the polls.
Then DMDK became a most sought after party for alliance, more so for DMK.
Alinging with AIADMK in 2011, the DMDK became the second largest party in the assembly and Vijaykant became the Leader of the Opposition.
Later the party witnessed dissensions and some long time office bearers broke away.
The party now has lost its steam with Vijayakant’s health not up to the mark.
Over the years the DMDK’s vote share has come down.
In 2018, Kamal Haasan floated his Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) party in Madurai.
The party contested independently in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and got about four per cent vote share while all the party candidates lost.
In 2021 assembly polls the party plans to contest lead by Kamal Haasan.
The other action hero Sarath Kumar floated The All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi in 2007. The party mostly contested in alliance with AIADMK and its own vote share is not known.
The other notable politician import from Tamil movie world is Seeman who has floated Naam Tamilar Katchi. The party has been contesting in the polls without aligning with any other party.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls Naam Tamilar Katchi had polled four per cent, logging three per cent vote growth over the earlier assembly polls.
“In terms of growth, it is only Kamal Haasan’s MNM and Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi has the growth opportunity. While MNM can cut into urban votes of other parties-mainly DMK-Seeman’s party can gain in the rural areas,” a political analyst not wanting to be quoted told IANS.
But such a scenario is bound to change with the entry of Rajinikanth the latest movie hero to enter the state politics.
“He is super caste neutral. He can attract all voter segments – urban, rural, apolitical, small, micro communities. It is going to impact all the parties,” the analyst added.
The next probable actor in the political line could be Vijay. However last month he distanced himself from the political party floated by his father and movie director S.A. Chandrasekhar.
Vijay urged his fans not to join or serve the party just because his father started.
The actor said there is no connection between his father’s party and his fan’s movement.
“I also hope that appropriate action will be taken against them if they engage in any activities involving my name or photo or the name of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam,” Vijay had said.