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Smaller parties feel Rajini has not shut political doors

While actor Rajinikanth’s admission about his fragile health amid the pandemic has given rise to serious doubts about his political entry, smaller players and newer entrants into Tamil Nadu’s political landscape have not given up on him yet.

Some regional players feel that even if he eventually makes a “no show”, the ground could still be fertile for a third front to take on the Dravidian majors.

Though Mr. Rajinikanth and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan have had diametrically opposite views on issues, Mr. Haasan has openly expressed his desire to work with him “if the need arises”.

MNM functionaries felt such a “blockbuster” alliance was necessary to take on the two well-entrenched Dravidian parties.

If Mr. Rajinikanth remains politically aloof, will the MNM join an electoral front led by the DMK or the AIADMK? According to MNM general secretary (party organisation) C.K. Kumaravel, Mr. Haasan, while determined not to align with the BJP and the two big Dravidian parties, wants to form a third front with like-minded parties.

“There is a sizeable population which is looking for a change. After the departure of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, there is a huge vacuum in the political space and the electorate will have three choices — Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Kamal Haasan and M.K. Stalin. We believe that we will make a significant impact in the upcoming elections,” he said.

Another MNM functionary, however, said he was still hopeful that Mr. Rajinikanth will launch his party. “If not, I am sure he will support our leader,” he said.

Often seen as Mr. Rajinikanth’s natural ally, the BJP, also remains hopeful.

“Mr. Rajinikanth has not taken any decision. He has just said that the facts about his health are true and that he will decide on the next course of political action after consulting his fan clubs,” pointed out party spokesperson K.T. Raghavan. Would the BJP launch a third front in Rajinikanth’s political absence? “It is not new. We formed a third front in 2014 under our leadership. This time, I do agree that the situation is very fluid and we need to wait for sometime. As of now, we have reiterated that our alliance continues [with AIADMK],” he said.

A senior PMK leader said that Mr. Rajinikanth’s statement need not mean that the third front is done and dusted. “It is too early to shut out the possibility of a third front. So many things will change closer to the elections,” he felt.

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