Superstar Rajinikanth may contest the Tamil Nadu election next year using as his springboard a newly-registered party, Makkal Sevai Katchi (People Service Party), with the autorickshaw as the symbol.
The party was registered last year by family members of a leader of Rajinikanth’s outfit Rajini Makkal Mandram. Speculation peaked when it emerged that the party recently applied for two symbols that have a distinct Rajinikanth connect.
The party ‘s first preference was the two-finger symbol (the “rock-on” gesture used by Rajinikanth in the film “Baba”) and the second choice was the autorickshaw. The election body assigned the second – a reminder of another popular Rajini starrer, “Basha”, in which he played an autorickshaw driver.
As reports emerged of Rajinikanth’s possible new party even before his grand New Year’s Eve announcement, his team appealed to members of his outfit to wait for official information. But it did not deny the reports or even confirm them.
The Makkal Sevai Katchi party was previously registered with the Election Commission as the “Anaithindia Makkal Shakthi Kazhagam”. The application listed an address in north Chennai.
Rajinikanth, 70, was neither named as the applicant nor as an office bearer.
In September, “Anaithindia Makkal Shakthi Kazhagam” was renamed “Makkal Sevai Katchi”.
A fresh application was sent for a symbol to be allotted to the party.
“Though the application for the common symbol was not from Rajinikanth, the cover letter mentioned his name,” sources in the poll body told NDTV.
Since it was registered in February 2019, the Makkal Sevai Katchi has not contested any election.
The party was registered by the family members of AJ Stalin, a district leader of Rajinikanth’s outfit.
SP James is the president of the party, Antony Joe Raja is the general secretary and Maria John Augustus is the treasurer of the party. All three are also members of a Trust founded by AJ Stalin.
The financial statement of the party for the year 2018-19, accessed by NDTV, shows “Rs 0.34 lakhs” as its income and the same as expenditure.
Antony Joe Raja refused to comment on his political party and its connections with Rajinikanth.
Rajinikanth, who set up the Rajini Makkal Mandram two years ago, is set to announce his political party on December 31 before launching it in January, five months before the Tamil Nadu election.
Earlier this month, the hugely popular star, seen to vacillate for long over joining politics, announced that he was ready to take the plunge and it was “now or never”.
He promised “spiritual, secular politics” and a “miracle” in the polls, previewing a blockbuster campaign that will also feature fellow actor Kamal Haasan.
In October, there were reports that Rajinikanth was reluctant to join politics because he was warned by his doctors over Covid, given his renal transplant.
This will be the first election in Tamil Nadu without its political giants J Jayalalithaa, the former Chief Minister and AIADMK chief who died in office in 2016, and the rival DMK’s M Karunanidhi, who died in 2018. In the absence of any towering political figure, two veteran actors are expected to shake up the vote.