It is a known fact that the dynamics of Tamil politics will be radically changed when Rajinikanth enters the fray, considering his god-like status in the Southern state which is known for its magnificent Hindu temples. That Rajinikanth has not yet jumped into state politics seems to be a rather strategic decision, and in all likelihood, major developments on that front will not take place before the 2021 state elections. Rajinikanth enjoys a swell of support in Tamil Nadu paralleled perhaps by no other sane leader of the state. What’s even better, the superstar-turning-politician has a centre-right political approach, and as such, he will be filling the void of Hindu and pan-Indian nationalism in the state in the near future.
There are numerous instances that serve as a bright indicator towards the strand of politics which Rajinikanth is inclined towards, the most recent being the superstar’s praising of the AIADMK government for banning the Hinduphobic YouTube channel – ‘Karuppar Kootam’.
The said channel, on July 13, put out a video by one Surendar Natarajan, who appears to be a Periyar supporter. The video was about ‘Kanda Shashti Kavasam’, a traditional Tamil song with lyrics sung in praise of Hindu Lord Murugan. Natarajan went on to describe how the ‘Kanda Shashti Kavasam’ had vulgar and obscene expressions in its lyrics.
Subsequently, a case was filed by the BJP, and the saffron party called for the arrest of culprits who had so fragrantly decided to hurt religious sentiments of Lord Murugan’s devotees. Two people were arrested by the Central Crime Branch thereafter. Later, all the videos posted on the YouTube channel were removed. Following such action against Hinduphobic elements, Rajinikanth took to Twitter to say, “The video from Karuppar Kootam had hurt the sentiments of crores of Tamils. At least now, may the practice of lambasting Gods go away.”
For those who are not aware about the political ramifications of taking a stand against Periyarites in Tamil Nadu, rest assured, it is believed to be no less than political suicide. The foundations of Tamilian politics are laid on the notion of the fallacious ‘Aryan Invasion Theory’, which is an expensive lie that has been sold to generations of Indians successfully via school textbooks. Periyar’s hate-driven ideology has dominated Tamil politics. To speak up against such a popular mindset, therefore, as said earlier, would be political suicide.
That has not stopped Rajinikanth from standing up against what is so blatantly wrong in the discourse of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is a sanctuary of Hindu culture, with the largest number of temples, whose magnificence is not subject to introduction. At some point, one must begin standing up against the lies which are furthered by vested interest groups with an inclination towards Periyar. As a matter of fact, earlier in January, Rajinikanth had not shied away from taking on the Hinduphobic Periyar himself. Rajinikanth had spoken about a controversial 1971 rally carried out by Periyar EV Ramasamy. The legendary actor mentioned how Hindu deities, Bhagwan Ram and Mata Sita were insulted in the rally with a ‘naked’ image of the deities and a garland of slippers. Rajinikanth, of course, faced huge backlash from Dravidian outfits in the region. But the superstar did not relent and held on to news articles in order to corroborate his version, thereby refusing to apologise.
On the issue of CAA, Rajinikanth supported the Modi government. The superstar said, “The government has assured that Indian people will have no issues in respect of CAA. Some political parties are instigating people against CAA for their selfish interests.” At the same time, he had also termed National Population Register (NPR) as “essential”.
When the Modi government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajinikanth wholeheartedly supported the move, and compared Modi and Amit Shah to Shri Krishna and Arjun. Moreover, on the issue of women entering Sabarimala temple backed by a Supreme Court judgement which looked at ending “gender discrimination” in the temple, Rajinikanth extended his support to the devotees.
Needless to say, Rajinikanth is filling the void of Hindu nationalism and pride in Tamil Nadu, which although the state BJP has been trying hard to do in the state, but has been failing. The BJP is perceived as a northern party, again, comprised of Aryans looking to devour the Dravidian identity of Tamil Nadu. Such a perception does not echo with the people, and the BJP is therefore rendered incapacitated to make a dent in the state, for now. Rajinikanth, however, has largescale support on the ground, and it will be much easier for a man of his stature to give rise to Hindu and pan-Indian nationalism in the state as a long term substitute to caste-driven politics, or to put it in a sophisticated manner, a feeling of sub-nationalism which has been prevalent in Tamil Nadu all through independent India’s history.