In many Tamil films, the two rising stars of the eighties, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan worked together and fought over the heroine before deciding to go their separate ways. Can they come together in the political arena, setting aside their differences on ideology, is the big question that is dominating space in the social media today. Some common friends have suggested the preparation of a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) on the basis of which the two actors could be part of an alliance despite having certain ideological differences.
Sources close to Rajinikanth and Kamal said they had received suggestions from interested quarters on the need to close ranks, join hands to consolidate their respective vote-banks rather than get squeezed out in the race between the two principal players, the ruling AIADMK and the DMK. UWSDWF or united we stand, divided we fall is the slogan that is pointed out to them by their well-wishers.
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The CMP had been a way out for many political parties in the country to forge an electoral front or to run a coalition government. Parties on the extreme Left and on the right have used this tool to have an electoral alliance to prevent a division in their votes and maximize opportunities towards poll victories.
Both actors have reportedly not rejected such suggestions outright, giving rise to hopes of progress towards an arrangement between the two sides. While Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) has already been formed and took part in the Lok Sabha elections with a poll percentage of over 4 per cent, Rajinikanth’s party is to be launched in a couple of weeks, perhaps immediately after the Pongal festival and completion of the latter’s work for Tamil film Annaatthe.
While both actors have rejected charges that they were being propped up by the BJP, leaders of the saffron party have been throwing broad hints that it would not be averse to promoting their united front despite differences with them. How the BJP will manage an alliance of the two actors on one side, and the AIADMK on the other, is an important question that the saffron party needs to sort out. Looking at the long-term interests of the BJP, which is trying to come to power in every state, be it West Bengal or Telangana, it is anxious to seal a deal with the actors’ front, in which case it would rework its arrangement with the AIADMK.
Rajinikanth, for instance, is extremely concerned about safety and security when he steps out of the confines of his house. The prospect of a stampede at his events is real. Therefore, he may have to count on indirect support from the Centre if he should get security of commandos. The Tamil Nadu government too, for all its posturing, may extend necessary security especially to Rajinikanth. The actors also need to be assured that they would not be subjected to Income-Tax or Enforcement Directorate raids.
Both Kamal and Rajinikanth are acutely conscious of the fact that to win a considerable number of seats, their front would have to get at least 30 per cent share of the popular vote even in a multi-cornered battle (in view of the first-past-the-post-election format). In order to achieve this, the two would need to also expand their front and bring in more players on their side.
At this stage, Kamal and Rajini have to worry about the DWV (don’t waste your vote) factor where a section of the voters could believe that they have no real chance of winning, and therefore a vote for them would be seen as wasted vote. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to prevent a DWV factor, and this can happen only if they project a real prospect of victory. A large front, even if some of the players are minor ones, alone would give hope to the electorate that a vote for them could result in victory and not end up as waste. Those who have real-time experience of the ground realities in an electoral battle are therefore urging the two to come together and rope in more allies, and also create defections from the AIADMK and the DMK.
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Actors Sivaji Ganesan and MGR suffered due to a cold war between the associations of their fans, worsened by the fact that they acted in only one film together (Koondukkili). Kamal and Rajini shared space in films like Apoorva Raagangal, Aadu Puli Aattam, Avargal, Aval Appadithaan, Moonru Mudichu, Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu, Ninaithaale Inikkum, and have often been seen together on public platforms.
The CMP is seen as a major step in overcoming the obstacles and removing the cobwebs for the two actors to forge an alliance. Kamal Haasan has already made an open call to Rajini on working together in the political arena. So the job is half done. It now remains for Rajini to respond.