Indian movie actor Kamal Hassan. Photo: AFP / Arun Sankar
Indian movie actor Kamal Hassan. Photo: AFP / Arun Sankar

South India film stars Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth may become Tamil Nadu’s future leaders, but they are still undecided on the launch of their respective political parties.

Hassan is in the process of consulting leaders across the political spectrum before finalizing his party’s roadmap. In media interviews, Hassan said he will not hesitate to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), although as a rationalist, he wants to keep his distance from the saffron party. Rajni is less vocal about his political plunge, but he is expected to help the BJP expand its base in the state.

The political interest in the two stars comes at a time when factionalism and corruption have reduced the Tamil Nadu government to a minority. The fate of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government depends on a court ruling next month on the disqualification of 18 lawmakers belonging to a rival faction of AIADMK led by a tainted family.

The power struggle in AIADMK began soon after the death of actor-politician J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016

The power struggle in AIADMK began soon after the death of actor-politician J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016. Tamils want to forget this dark chapter in their political history by encouraging novices like Hassan or Rajni to run a corruption-free government. However, not everyone is sure whether Hassan and Rajni can fill the political power vacuum in the state.

The following are some of the reasons observers say the stars should not get involved in politics:

• Rajni and Kamal are not inspired by any political ideology, nor do they have they the track record of the late actor-politician MG Ramachandran for serving the poor.

• With 2019 general polls round the corner, both are eyeing power, hoping the Modi government will sweep the polls.

• Kamal’s credibility is low because he keeps shifting the goal posts. Although he opposes the BJP, he is still ready to help it by teaming with his old colleague Rajni in the fight against corruption.

• Tamil voters are drawn by Dravidian ethos and they would not back a national party like the BJP or any other group that Rajni and Kamal may want to lead.

• As actors, the two may be great successes. But politics is a different ballgame.

Film stars Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth. Photo: money

On the positive side, Hassan and Rajni have fans all over Tamil Nadu to serve as their vote banks. Rajni has over 50,000 fan clubs with each having at least 100-200 members. Before the release of his movies, Rajni’s fans still bathe his large cutouts with milk, a ritual normally reserved for idols in temples.

Moreover, for many voters fed up with Dravidian politics and looking for a third front, a party led by Rajni or Hassan is likely to be a viable option.

The longer the political stalemate in AIADMK government continues, the higher the likelihood the two stars will make a good start in the world of politics.