Rajini praises BJP manifesto for promise to link rivers. Is this a signal for fans to back AIADMK-BJP alliance?

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth on Tuesday lauded the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto promise of inter-linking rivers as an attractive one, fuelling speculation that it was a signal to his fans on whom to vote for.

“I have been speaking about interlinking Indian rivers for years. The BJP has released its election manifesto on Monday. Amongst the poll promises, I was attracted by BJP’s assurance to interlink Indian rivers,” he said while addressing media at his Poes Garden residence in Chennai.

The Tamil matinee icon said that he had made a similar suggestion to the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was Prime Minister.

“When I spoke about interlinking Indian rivers, Vajpayee was very interested in implementing that. I had also coined a name ‘Paheerath Yojana’ – means for making impossible things possible. If the country’s rivers are linked, it will eradicate poverty and the livelihood crores of people and farmers will improve. If NDA forms the government again at Centre, they should implement this first,” Rajini added.

A few weeks ago the actor had requested Tamil Nadu people and his followers to vote for a party capable of linking Indian rivers. Political analysts say this is Rajinikanth’s way of signalling to his fans on which way to vote. The Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM) – a fan based association which is likely to be converted into a political party could therefore support the BJP-AIADMK alliance, analysts said.

Aazhi Senthilnathan, a political analyst from Chennai said Rajini’s comments are an indication to his RMM workers to work for BJP-AIADMK alliance.

“We know that Rajini has always had a soft corner towards BJP. He had already said that when numerous hands (Mahaghatbandhan) are joining together to oppose one man (Modi), we should think who is more powerful. After this, he is coming out to express his support for BJP with this river linkage issue. It is evident that the actor is passing directions to his followers to back AIADMK–BJP alliance in Tamil Nadu,” Senthilnathan said.

Asked whether Rajini’s comments will boost the AIADMK–BJP alliance, S Vijayadharini, Congress MLA from TN and All India Mahila Congress general secretary said it will not affect DMK-Congress combine in the least.

“The BJP had made the same promise in 2014. However, they have not moved even a single brick for implementing the promise. So, how come Rajinikanth hopes that BJP will implement this in the future? This shows his pro-BJP mindset. Inter-linking of rivers could not be achieved overnight. We have to consider various factors including environmental impact due to interlinking rivers. Also, we know about the vote bank base for Rajinikanth. It will not affect the DMK-Congress alliance’s prospects,” said Vijayadharini.

A senior office bearer of RMM who did not want to be identified said Rajini’s comments should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the BJP.

“Our President has plainly said that he is not supporting anyone in this LS polls. Since we have not floated a political party until now, we are not supporting anyone,” added the senior RMM leader.

He also clarified that Rajini has not backed BJP. “He has voiced support only for inter-state river linkage project,” the RMM leader added.

Responding to his celluloid rival and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) president Kamal Haasan’s request seeking support for his MNM in the Lok Sabha polls, Rajini said “I have already cleared my political stance. I don’t want to comment on Kamal’s request. I request media to avoid such questions as it would spoil our friendship,” Rajini maintained.

The MNM is contesting all the 39 LS seats and a lone seat in Puducherry apart from the 18 assembly seats going to polls in Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth announced his political entry on December 31, 2018.

First Published:
Apr 09, 2019 17:06 IST

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