Rajinikanth’s aides urge him to project himself as CM candidate

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth is being persuaded to project himself as the chief ministerial candidate for 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, a close aide said Friday, a day after the actor announced his intention to launch a political party by January 2021 and contest the assembly election.

“He (Rajinikanth) has taken a firm stand that he will not be chief minister,” said a person considered close to the actor. “He had taken this decision even before announcing his political entry in December 2017. We are trying to convince him to rethink.”

In March, this year, Rajinikanth said that he had no desire to be the chief minister. “I will be the party chief,” said Rajinikanth. “We will make a youngster who is educated, farsighted, self-respecting and affectionate to sit (in the chief minister’s chair). That person will govern. The party will critique but not interfere with their work. But, it won’t be like parallel power centres. This is my plan,” the actor had said.

Political analysts attribute Rajinikanth’s risk-averse personality for not wanting to be the chief minister candidate and that was the reason for him not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“He will probably have a 5% vote share which can go up to a maximum of 8%, depending on his promises and if he projects himself as the chief minister candidate,” said political analyst Sriram Seshadri. “This number is a luxury for Rajinikanth. He’s realised that and done a fair assessment of himself and the ground reality. He would probably like to be in a kingmaker’s role so his stature remains.”

On Thursday, Rajinikanth made two appointments for his yet to be launched party – his confidante Tamilaruvi Manian as supervisor while an former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member R Arjunamurthy as chief coordinator.

“His aim is to change the system,” said Manian. “He wants to return people’s goodwill by putting up better candidates as legislators and a chief minister. He’s practicing a detached attachment approach.”

Rajinikanth is keen to hit the ground for campaigning, say his associates despite his age and health condition amidst the Covid-19 pandemic which puts him under a high-risk category. Rajinikanth will make further announcements about the party on December 31.

The topic of a chief ministerial candidate is dominant in the current scenario where the upcoming polls are the first in the absence of Dravidian stalwarts such as AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa and DMK’s M Karunanidhi.

In October, after days of negotiations and tussle within the AIADMK, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam announced that chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami will continue to the leader for the top post when they pitch for a third consecutive term. In the opposition DMK, there is no difference of opinion within the camp or with its allies. The DMK lead alliance would fight under MK Stalin, who has been groomed by Karunanidhi for this job for several decades.

Rajinikanth’s contemporary Kamal Haasan will contest as the chief ministerial face of his party Makkal Needhi Maiam which made its electoral debut in 2019 parliamentary polls with a 3.7% vote share.

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