Painful and embarrassing: RMM members disappointed at elevation of Arjunamurthy, Tamilaruvi

CHENNAI: Actor Rajinikanth fulfilled the dreams nursed by his fans for nearly three decades on Thursday when he announced that his political party would be launched in January.

However, the superstar’s appointment of ex-BJP member RA Arjunamurthy and close confidant Tamilaruvi Manian as chief coordinator and supervisor respectively of the proposed party has disappointed supporters and members of his Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM).

The RMM was formed from the actor’s fan clubs after he announced his interest in electoral politics in 2017. 

“At the meeting for RMM district secretaries last Monday, we urged our leader to start the political party immediately. We assured him we would stand by him regardless of what decision he took, after he explained his limitations due to his health. So fans were jubilant when he announced the launch but none of us are happy about the appointment of senior leaders without consulting RMM functionaries,” one RMM member said.

Most of the RMM functionaries have over three decades of experience with the fan clubs, he pointed out. 

“Physical and economic sacrifices we have made to maintain the fan clubs can be understood only by those who have tracked our work closely. The people who have been appointed are ‘elites’ who won’t be able to understand our pain and service,” the member lamented, adding that after four decades of work in the fan clubs he would now have to introduce himself to Arjunamurthy who has no idea what they had accomplished.

“Many of us find this painful and embarrassing,” he said. 

Another district functionary pointed out that the RMM had several wings and at least 1,000 district-level functionaries. 

“RMM is the base for the political party. We are going to execute the campaign and other election work, including poll booth duty. But, our leader thinks none of us has the capacity to be appointed as even a subordinate to Tamilaruvi Manian or Arjunamurthy. How can we order those below us to work for unknown persons,” the functionary asked.

RMM members said their disappointment could be gauged merely by looking at the social media reactions to Rajini’s announcement. 

“His tweet announcing the political plunge was liked by 73.9K and retweeted by 30.2K persons while the announcement of the appointment of Ra Arjunamurthy and Tamilaruvi Manian was liked only by 42.8K and retweeted by only 9.3K. In comparison, his tweet congratulating DMK’s Duraimurugan and TR Baalu for their election as party general secretary and treasurer had witnessed 33.3K likes and 6.7K retweets,” said another functionary, adding that even two days after Rajini’s appointment fans had yet to paste posters welcoming him into politics.

Veteran journalist Tharasu Shyam was of the view that Rajini had erred in leaving out Rajini fans and RMM functionaries. 

“When MGR floated the ADMK, he actually joined a small outfit called ADMK established by Anakaputhur Ramalingam, an ardent MGR fan, which was registered under the Society’s Act. Soon after, Ramalingam declared that all the MGR fans clubs would be ADMK branches. Similarly, Vijyakant appointed Ramu Vasanthan as DMDK general secretary and all other key posts to his functionaries from his fan clubs. Even the seasoned politician Panrutti Ramachandran was only made presidium chair considering his seniority,” he explained.

“Rajini has made a mistake by leaving out the fans. People who have followed him for decades are going to be very hurt,” he said.

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