Chennai: Amid dragging speculation whether he will take the plunge or not, superstar Rajinikanth on Sunday announced that he will not contest the coming Lok Sabha elections nor will he support any political party.
In a statement on a letterhead of his fan club Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM), a former bus conductor who enjoys frenzied following among Tamil cinema buffs, informed his fans that his name or photograph should not be used by anyone seeking votes.
“I am not going to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections. Our target is Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. I am not going to support any party in the Lok Sabha elections. So nobody can use my photo or the RMM’s symbol in support of or in the campaign of any party,” Rajinkanth said.
The 68-year-old actor, who has worked in over 200 films, appealed to his fans: “Tamil Nadu’s main problem in the coming elections will be water. Any party that will form a strong and stable government at the Centre and which can solve the water crisis of Tamil Nadu permanently through schemes and give an assurance to fulfil them should be given support and fans should vote on that basis.”
There has been a lot of speculation whether Rajinikanth would enter politics and fight elections. He had some time back hinted at entering politics actively to fulfil the political vacuum caused by the death of iconic leaders M. Karunanidhi and J. Jayalalithaa.
While announcing his entry into politics, Rajinikanth had said he would be able to provide “good” governance like the late M.G. Ramachandran, the founder leader of AIADMK.
Rajinikanth had talked of spiritual politics that lent itself to speculation that he could back the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha battle in Tamil Nadu, which elects 39 members to the Lok Sabha.
Reacting to the development, political strategist Jhon Arokiasamy told news persons: “By this announcement, Rajinikanth signals that he is maintaining an equidistance between the BJP and the Congress. Also, he does not want any connection with the likely AIADMK-BJP alliance.
Rajinikanth informed fans not to use his name in any political party as he decided not to contest LS polls:
“Perhaps this was done after the reversals suffered by the BJP in the recent Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and other states. That apart, he is setting the Lok Sabha poll narrative for Tamil Nadu by referring to the water problem,” Arokiasamy added.
Rajinikanth has had a pro-BJP image in recent times and it is believed that he perhaps did not float a political party after the BJP suffered defeats in recent Assembly elections.
The actor’s long-time colleague in cinema, Kamal Haasan, who has no love for the BJP, last year floated a political outfit, Makkal Needhi Maiam. He has announced that his outfit will contest the coming Lok Sabha elections on its own.
Meanwhile, BJP’s National Secretary H. Raja told journalists: “Rajinikanth is consistent in his stand. On Dec 31, 2017 he said his target is only the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls.”
According to Raja, it is only the BJP that can provide a permanent solution for Tamil Nadu’s water problem with its schemes of linking of rivers.
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said the contest was between the AIADMK-led alliance and the DMK-led alliance.
Political analyst Raveendhran Dhuraiswamy told media persons: “Rajinikanth’s announcement may have a positive fallout for possible AIADMK-BJP alliance.”
Why Wayanad could be a safe seat for Rahul Gandhi
Wayanad, which could soon become a VVIP constituency if Congress President Rahul Gandhi decides to contest the Lok Sabha election from there, has been a Congress safe seat.
In the last two Lok Sabha elections, in 2014 and 2009, M.I. Shanavas of the Congress won the seat, defeating the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kerala’s predominantly bipolar electoral politics.
In that sense, picking Wayanad as Gandhi’s constituency is a careful choice as is the calibrated demand to have him contest from a southern Indian seat apart from Amethi where he faces Union Minister Smriti Irani.
The Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency is newly formed and was created following fresh delimitation of seats in 2008.
The seat has been vacant since last year following the MP’s death.
For the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the total number of electors in Wayanad was 11,02,097. Shanavas got 410,703 votes, which was 49.86 per cent of votes polled. He defeated Advocate M. Rahmatullam of the CPI, who got 257,264 (31.23 per cent).
In that election, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s C. Vasudevan Master got 31,687 votes which was a mere 3.85 per cent of the votes polled. He came a distant fourth in the contest.
K. Muraleedharan of the Nationalist Congress Party did better than the BJP candidate, coming third with 99,663 votes (12.10 per cent).
Compared to 2009, Shanavas had a tough time winning the seat in 2014, scraping through with a little more than 20,000 votes over the second placed CPI candidate to become one of the 44 Congress MPs in the last Lok Sabha.
In 2014, Shanavas got 377,035 votes or 30.18 per cent of the votes polled compared to CPI’s Sathyan Mokeri who got 356,165 votes or 28.51 per cent. However, that election saw the BJP placed third with its candidate P.R. Rasmilnath bagging 80,752 votes (6.46 per cent).
The others in the race, all bit players, fared as follows. Independent candidate P.V. Anvar got 37,123 votes (2.97 per cent), SDPI’s Jaleel Neelambra got 14,327 votes (1.146 per cent) and WPOI’s Ramla Mampad got 12,645 votes (1.01 per cent).
NOTA votes figured seventh on the tally — 10,735 or 0.85 per cent.
PPA Sageer of AAP got 10,684 votes, which was 0.85 of votes polled, Sathyan Thazemangad, an independent candidate, got 5,476 votes or 0.43 of votes polled.
The Wayanad Lok Sabha seat comprises seven Assembly segments. Three of these are from Wayanad district — Mananthavady (ST), Sulthanbathery (ST) and Kalpetta. One is from Kozikode district (Thiruvambadi) and three are from Malappuram district — Ernad, Nilambur and Wandoor (SC).
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