Neta Rajini decoded: What exactly will be Thalaivar’s ‘spiritual politics’?

CHENNAI: When the Justice Party was formed in the November of 1916, the idea was to give representation to non-Brahmins of the Madras Presidency in politics. But gradually, by 1944, the party underwent a metamorphosis into the non-political rationalist organisation, the Dravidar Kazhagam. The organisation vowed to fight superstitions and infuse a spirit of social justice in the society.

Not long after, a section of leaders left the Kazhagam to form a political outfit, the DMK. Its founding Chief Minister, CN Annadurai retained most principles followed by the Kazhagam — Federalism, promotion of Tamil and Social Justice — but gave up a key ideology that Periyar, the found of Dravidar Kazhagam, held close to his heart — atheism.  

In fact, the birth of DMK was the death of atheism as a political ideology. With a secular slogan “Onre Kulam Oruvane Devan” the party campaigned for equal treatment for all religions.

The DMK came to power in 1967, and since then, many parties, small and big, have come to be formed in Tamil Nadu. Most of them have held a similar secularist position when it comes to matters of religion.

Decades later, actor Rajinikanth’s promise of “spiritual politics” has raised eyebrows among the local political circles. Some view it as a significant diversion in the State’s political history, in which most parties till date have kept religion at an arm’s length.

Though the actor himself clarified that he means values such as honesty and secularism by the word “spiritual”, the debate never seems to end. 

Rajini, who is banking on his enormous fan base, has openly expressed his disagreement with atheism as a way of life. Through his movies, he has never hesitated to display his faith in his religion.

Several of his popular and blockbuster flicks — from Arunachalam to Baasha, Baba, and Muthu — have the protagonist displaying great faith in religion. 

Political pundits feel Rajini’s political approach may not differ widely from the roles he portrays on the screen.

That apart, the actor’s silence on certain public issues, or statements on lines similar to the position held by BJP, had also set tongues wagging about his ideology. He had lauded the Central government’s decision to end special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. 

At an event, where he shared the stage with Home Minister Amit Shah, Rajini expressed his “heartfelt congratulations” for the mission Kashmir.

“The way you conducted it… hats off… especially the speech you delivered in Parliament… fantastic. Now people will come to know who Amith Shah is. I’m happy about that.”

Rajini had also hailed PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah by comparing them with the Central characters of Mahabharata – Arjuna and Krishna.

In May 2018, Rajini blamed anti-social elements for the violence during the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi in which 13 people were killed in police firing.

In July, after coming under severe attack from the netizens for his silence on the issue, Rajini condemned the custodial deaths of two traders in Sathankulam.

Analysts read these signs as the actor being soft on the ruling dispensation. Hence, in the minds of many political pundits and voting public, a crucial question lingers: Is Rajini the face of right-wing politics in TN? 

His silence on public issues may work against him

Political pundits feel Rajini’s political approach may not differ widely from the roles he portrays on the screen.

That apart, the actor’s silence on certain public issues, or statements on lines similar to the position held by the BJP, had also set tongues wagging about his ideology. 


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