He may be late but he’s the latest

NS Vageesh | Updated on March 08, 2018

Rajini must take it step-by-step, and learn from AAP’s follies

At long last, Rajinikanth has taken the plunge to start a new political party. The time is propitious. There is a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu following the demise of Jayalalithaa and the retirement of Karunanidhi. Their successors have clearly been found wanting.

The Dravidian parties have held sway for 50 years (first the DMK and then the AIADMK) and kept national parties out of power since 1967. No neutral observer will deny that this was a period marked by poor governance, corruption, nepotism, backwardness and brazen fanning of the flames of linguistic chauvinism, casteism, communalism and other divisive tendencies. The State needs to be rescued from the decadence brought about by the Dravidian duopoly. If Tamil Nadu ranks higher than Bihar or even UP in terms of law and order or other parameters today, put it down to good fortune, the foundations laid by the earlier governments, and a relatively well-functioning bureaucracy.

Rajinikanth’s entry may now result in advancing of the poll schedule, originally due three years later. This will leave him little time to build up his political party and do what an NTR did when he dethroned the Congress in Andhra Pradesh in the 1980s — with a new political party in just six months. Forming a team that will guide the party, building a clean leadership with administrative skills and organising a cadre from worshipping fans without yielding to nepotism are big challenges ahead of him. His statement that he will contest all 230 seats in the Assembly reflect the enthusiasm of a naive newbie. A cooler solution will be to make a strategic choice — contest 50 seats with like-minded parties — but become a useful pressure group and wield greater clout. In that lies greater chance of success. He must learn from the AAP experience — the disaster that struck that party when it contested all parliamentary seats in 2014 without sufficient ground level preparation.

Associate Editor

Published on December 31, 2017

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