Why Rajinikanth’s political meetings fill residents of a Chennai hostel with dread

Every time actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth meets his fan club members or office bearers of the Rajini Makkal Mandram at Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai’s Kodambakkam, the residents of government-run Ambedkar Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Hostel located right next to Mandapam have to bear the brunt. From fans and others urinating on the walls of the government building to sticking posters of the actor on the hostel and other walls in the area, residents say they have put up with a lot and want RMM to tell its members to exercise restraint.

Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth had recently called a meeting of the district secretaries of Rajini Makkal Mandram on Monday. The meeting called after several months due to the coronavirus induced lockdown witnessed members of the party and RMM cadre thronging the Viswanathapuram Main road in Kodambakkam.  

A student of the Ambedkar SC/ST Hostel said, “The Ambedkar Hostel that was in a tattered condition was renovated only in February but I fear that the renovation works will go for waste. A bad stench has already started to emanate from the place since many people urinated on Monday and the garbage due to the posters is yet to be cleared turning the place into a dump yard.”

The Ambedkar hostel has been in the news many times for its dilapidated condition and lack of renovation work. However, the hostel was renovated only by February 2020.  Though most students are in their hometowns as colleges are not functioning, medical students and final year college students continue to reside in the hostel

“The posters on the wall also make people think that this is a private property making it easier for them to urinate on the walls and at times they even defecate in the open. Even though a notice on the wall asks RMM members and others not to stick any posters, they continue to do so. Their works to damage public property should be immediately stopped by the party,” he said.

The hostels are given free of cost to the students, and so many fear complaining to the officials or police. Shigam, a resident of Kodambakkam and an RTI activist said, “People are not allowed to enter Poes Garden where Rajinikanth lives and so every time we are the victims and the organizers do not clean despite complaints from us. I informed one of the organizers and he said he will clean the place by Tuesday morning but the condition remains the same.”

“All the hostellers are yet to reach the hostels since many college students continue to stay in their hometown amid lockdown. In this scenario, the hostel is being brought back to its previous shape even though the students are yet to use them,” he said.

“The marriage hall has ample space but the cadre mostly waits on the road to catch a glimpse of the actor. The traffic is diverted and we are forced to take longer routes to reach T Nagar and West Mambalam”, Shigam said.

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