Is Dravidian politics on the verge of a tectonic shift?

Last week, actor & filmmaker #KamalHassan created a flutter in political circles (and outside it) by making his intentions of getting into politics, presumably on a full time basis. That he chose to specially meet with #DelhiCM #ArvindKejriwal and bonded over their common peeve, that of corruption made things so much more dramatic. After all his colleague and fellow actor #Rajnikanth had only gone public a month ago with his own announcement of taking the political plunge. The grapevine had suggested that since Rajnikanth was close friends with #RSS idealogue #Gurumurthy he would join the saffron fold. With Kamal Hassan seemingly evincing interest in what is considered the other end of the political spectrum the stage is set for a mouthwatering contest. Between two of the biggest matinee idols of #TamilCinema. The kind that any scriptwriter would be proud of.

It all began with the unexpected demise of CM #Jayalalitha in December of last year. The actor turned politician had been a dominant force in Tamil Nadu politics for almost three decades. Affectionately referred to as #Amma (Tamil for mother) Jayalalitha served a staggering six terms in this period as the Chief Minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. What makes this state different from all the others is that since the 1960s only two parties have ruled the roost here, #DMK and #AIADMK (the one which Amma was heading) Neither the Grand Old Party of India, #Congress nor the right leaning BJP or even the communist parties of India have been able to gain a foothold here. That Jayalalitha’s death coincided with the fading away (due to old age) of DMK’s tallest leader #Karunanidhi from the limelight has left a huge political lacuna right at the top.

Strangely enough for someone who was thought of as politically astute, Jayalalitha never groomed anybody to be her successor. As a result post her death there was bickering among senior AIADMK members regarding the person who should replace her. Similarly in the rival camp (read DMK) Karunanidhi’s son #Stalin has been unable to inspire confidence both within the party and among supporters. Which is why for the first time in almost half a century the people of the state are looking beyond the two parties and at the possibility of a #ThirdFront emerging. Clearly #Dravidian politics is at a crossroads and the two southern superstars sense it too. After all rumors of Rajnikanth entering the political arena have been going around for several years now.

A brief look at their long, distinguised careers will tell one that though both the actors command a huge fan following of their own they have chosen (and willingly) to chart different paths. Rajni has always held sway over the masses whilst Kamal has been preferred by the discerning audiences. One only has to look at the former’s choice of roles from the last many years to understand that there has been a political subtext in them. But always. So while the entry of Rajnikanth is more or less on expected lines it is the possibility of his compatriot Kamal Hassan joining the party that has proved to be the proverbial twist in the tale. And what better place than Tamil Nadu? After all this is the same state that has had no less than three Chief Ministers who were all from the film industry.

There are several questions that remain unanswered. Will the duo join hands with any of the national parties or decide to go it all alone? Can their on screen persona translate into electoral dividends off it? Is there a chance (however remote) of them both coming together and forming a new party? Perhaps we will have more clarity on all this in the forthcoming weeks. One thing is for sure. The addition of these two tinseltown demigods to the mix will have massive implications, nationwide. Expect fireworks.

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