Why is Rajini Talking About CAA Without Really Talking About It?
All eyes were on Rajinikanth when he released the special issue of Thuglaq magazine, which was started by the highly-revered journalist Cho Ramaswamy. The event, organised on Tuesday, 14 January celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Tamil weekly magazine. The event was also attended by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.
When Rajinikanth was given the podium to address the audience, the crowds sat in anticipation for any mention of the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and agitation by university students.
So, what did Rajinikanth say? Well, nothing.
So Many Lost Opportunities
This was the only political dialogue in his entire speech:
It is not that Rajinikanth refrains from speaking about politically relevant issues, but he has chosen not to comment on the ongoing protests over CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC).
At the event, he said that he will only speak on “what is relevant to the programme.” “Whatever I need to say, I shall speak at the right time,” he added.
Speaking about the role of the media, Rajinikanth said, “It is essential to have a journalist like Cho today. Times are bad and politics is turbulent.”
Announcement Done. Mandram Ready. But Where is the Politics?
Before launching his political party, Rajinikanth had rechristened his fans’ association as Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM). Party members working for the mandram have confirmed that they they are doing the groundwork, but are also expecting an announcement from the star soon.
Rajini, who had lauded the BJP for its poll promise of interlinking rivers to resolve the water scarcity issue, had recently also compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to Lord Krishna and Arjun over the Centre’s decision to revoke Article 370. Amid these statements, he is seen as a pro-BJP man in Tamil Nadu. Many have even hinted that the saffron party is in talks with him to establish their presence in the state.
In the past, the actor has criticised the ruling AIADMK, while expressing appreciation for the Opposition DMK.
‘The Ongoing Violence Gives Me Great Pain’
Let’s revisit 19 December 2019, when police attacked students in Delhi for protesting against CAA. Students across the country organised rallies in solidarity and demanded answers from the government and the police force.
On the night of 19 December, the actor took to Twitter to express concern over the violence that had erupted in various parts of the country. Violence and rioting cannot be a way to find solution to any issue, Rajinikanth said.
The actor, however, did not specify any particular incident. He also said that the “ongoing violence caused me great pain.”
The actor's statement came on a day when Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka witnessed violence during the protests. In Mangaluru, two people were killed in a police firing. In Lucknow, protesters had hurled stones and damaged public property, forcing the police to use tear gas shells.
Just minutes after his tweet, two contrary hashtags – #IStandWithRajinikanth and #ShameOnYouSanghiRajini began trending on the social media platform .
Subsequently, DMK Youth President Udhayanidhi Stalin took a swipe at Rajinikanth’s statement while asking people to participate in DMK’s anti-CAA rally on December 23.
The Kamal-Rajini Equation
Meanwhile, actor-politician Kamal Haasan, has repeatedly taken a dig at his contemporary. However, he has also expressed his intentions of joining hands with Rajinikanth.
Kamal had said that the decision to join hands would not be a “miracle” given their long association.
“We have been together for 44 years. If the need comes for us to get together (in politics) then we will. Right now, work is important, talking about this is not. For the benefit of the people of Tamil Nadu, we can take this journey together.”
Actor Rajinikanth too had spoken about the possibility of the two coming together.
“Miracles have happened yesterday, they continue to happen today and will happen tomorrow as well,” Rajinikanth said.
Interestingly, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan – the two big guns of the industry – began their film career together and announced their entry into politics almost at the same time.
While Kamal Haasan launched a political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, which contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rajinikanth is yet to test the waters.
Not Following Big B’s Advice
Let’s rewind to 16 December 2019. Speaking at the Darbar audio launch, Rajinikanth shared fond memories of working with Amitabh Bachchan.
“A few years back in Chennai, he told me, ‘After turning 60, you should be careful about three things: Do exercise regularly, be busy and do whatever you want without bothering about what people say. The third thing he told me is, ‘don’t enter politics’.”
Rajinikanth added: “I have followed the first two bits of his advice but the third thing, I couldn’t follow because of the circumstances.”
On 31 December 2017, actor Rajinikanth had announced his entry into politics. He even confirmed his intention to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in all 234 constituencies.
Then, Kaala, 2.0, Petta, Darbar happened, and politics took a backseat.
So is Rajinikanth actually following Big B’s advice on politics by remaining mum about the CAA protests? What’s the use of talking about entering politics without actually participating in it? Only time will tell.
(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)