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After Malayali MGR, Vanakam to Maratha Shivaji Rao

Sushil Kutty

A Tamil nationalist party called Naam Tamihzar has told Tamil superstar Rajinikanth – in whom “politics has entered” – to storm no Tamil bastion because he is not Tamizh. Well, to them should be asked the question, who was MGR and where from came Jayalalithaa?

MGR for all his Tamil films was born in Kandy to a Hindu Malayali family which migrated to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from Kerala. And Jayalalithaa was born in Mandya district of Karnataka in a Tamil Brahmin family. Rajinikanth was born in a Maratha family in Bangalore, Karnataka. He was named Shivaji Rao Gaekwad after Chhatrapati Shivaji and was brought up speaking Marathi at home and Kannada outside.

The point is if MGR – a Malayali – and Jayalalithaa – a Tamil migrant from Karnataka – could rule Tamil Nadu for very long periods after being elected to power, why not Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, a Maratha, who even when he played a ‘Robot’ in the film Enthiran could speak chaste Tamil and street-Tamil and Robot-Tamil with the ease of a native Tamizh.

Rajini has been waiting for 22 long years to mount the political stallion and storm the bastions of the Dravida Kazhagam parties – the DMK and the AIADMK. When he finally got out his lair and roared his decision to form a political party, it was welcomed by his legion of fans. But nervous political rivals, who suddenly found themselves faced by an adversary they did not know how to take or tackle, were terrified.

Twenty-two years ago, Rajini had given a call to “save Tamil Nadu from Jayalalithaa”. Now he wants to occupy the space created by the death of Jaya with a cry for “spiritual politics.” A tweet by Amitabh Bachchan welcoming his move got more than 40 million ‘likes’ within hours. The other Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan also tweeted his welcome to “brother Rajinikanth” which too went viral.

Rajini’s cry for ‘spiritual politics’ in godless Dravida Nadu amounted to reverse blasphemy and would be political suicide to anybody other than Rajinikanth. The Dravidian Tamil gave up on God long ago, much before the so-called Aryans drove into ancient Dravidian settlements in the northwest of the subcontinent, squatting on cattle-carts and driving masses of cattle ahead of them.

The fair Aryan sought to impose his gods and his way of life on the dark Dravida up north but the Dravida in the south no Aryan could change. All was fine till all of India became one and the north came calling on the south with Hindi and ‘haath-shake’, where ‘Vanakam’ greeted, Namaste intruded. But Hindi was opposed in chaste Tamil and Hindi remained captive to classrooms.

The Dravida Kazhagam parties rose from the grassroots. They were rationalists and agnostics. There were pantheons only of Dravidian leaders on the Tamil stage. But take a walk across Tamil Nadu and it is a discovery in temples – thousands of temples to thousands of gods. The majority of who you would not come across in the Hindu heaven.

The Dravida political parties have fattened themselves on the godless belief of the agnostic. For them it is hard bargaining chips and total surrender to idol worship of a different kind – the Movie idol!

And sundry other movie-making characters like the lyricist and dialogue writer. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi was a lyricist-poet-dialogue writer before he decided to pen his political career. His godless son appropriately named Stalin has come of political age at the wrong time in Tamil political history.

The other week, 2017 gave Stalin a lesson to carry forward into 2018. First came the RK Nagar loss to TTV Dinakaran. And then, when all thought the last of the superstars had come and gone, not one but two rose from the ashes – agnostic Kamal Hassan and spiritual Rajinikanth. Of the two who will loom larger than the other will be the stuff of legends: Kamal the Sputnik or Rajini the Chandrayan!

Rajinikanth said on Sunday he would float a political party and contest all the 234 TN assembly constituencies. He told his fan following of millions that his political entry was “confirmed” and that it was the “need of the hour.” The man who can flip a cigarette in the air and catch it between the lips with every toss called for an honest and transparent system of governance to uproot corruption with “spiritual politics.”

The Tamil superstar told his fans that in the “olden days”, kings invaded a country to plunder and loot. Today, politicians from within the state looted their own people in the name of democracy. Rajini promised to be the ‘Kavalkaran’, the guardian of all Tamil people. He spoke in Tamil but he couldn’t have said it better in Marathi, his mother-tongue.

It sounded right to his fans, who wouldn’t stop cheering or clapping – for a good five minutes it was like the sound and fury of the Niagara Falls on a stormy day. Hell, you could have floated a Lotus on the decibel! But no, the “spiritual politics’ of Rajinikanth will leave no space for the BJP’s Hindutva politics and that was not what the RSS was expecting.

But the BJP will not give up on Rajinikanth. There is a faction in the BJP clamouring for some sort of alliance with Rajini’s yet-to-be-christened party. In a country with 36 million gods, it wouldn’t be difficult for a Hindutva god and a ‘Spiritual’ god to come to terms. So goes the logic.

Political reactions to the 67-year-old Rajini’s entry into politics have varied. Stalin’s DMK said it was OK. BJP welcomed Rajini. Naam Tamizhar criticized the Maratha. AIADMK boasted not even Rajini can shake it, turn its cadre. TTV Dhinakaran said ‘Bring it on’. The Tamil masses said ‘Wow!’

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