CHENNAI: With barely four months away from Assembly elections, the political scenario in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday witnessed another twist -- Rajinikanth backtracking on his promise to enter politics. This development has eventually brought the scenario back to square one -- i.e., it is going to be AIADMK Vs DMK although there are many claimants for the third front such as TTV Dhinalaran's AMMK and Kamal Haasan's MNM.
A few weeks ago, when Rajinikanth reconfirmed his political entry on December 3, major political parties were forced to redraw their political strategies for facing the crucial Assembly elections by keeping intact their alliance partners. By his announcement, Rajinikanth had literally opened up a new vista on the political highway of the State. While the AIADMK welcomed his political entry, the DMK cautiously said, "Let him launch his political party and declare his ideologies first." Now, the fight is predominantly between the two Dravidian majors.
"It will be AIADMK Vs DMK now. The anti-DMK and anti-AIADMK votes which were expected to go to Rajinikanth's party will now be retained by the Dravidian parties. When a leader who has star-value and who is also a celebrity enters politics, smaller parties used to be affected.
Now, after Rajinikanth's decision, parties like PMK, VCK, Seeman's NTK, and Kamal Haasan's MNM will benefit now," senior journalist GC Shekhar told The New Indian Express.
In this connection, Shekhar recalled that in 2006, DMDK cut into the vote base of both DMK and AIADMK and also the votes of PMK and VCK.
"Had Rajinikanth launched his political party, he would have been a major third force in the 2021 Assembly elections. Since that is not happening now, a section of those who were expecting Rajinikanth's entry might vote for Kamal Haasan's MNM now. But Kamal Haasan would be only a distant third force," Shekher added.
He also pointed out that the BJP expected that Rajinikanth would create a space for them in the future - i.e., the votes polled by Rajinikanth's party might be migrating towards BJP in the coming years. Now, that would not happen and it would be a loss to the BJP.
Political analyst Tharasu Shyam too is of the view that now the contest would be between the two Dravidian majors. "The bargaining power of smaller parties which raised following Rajinikanth's political entry, now has come down comparatively," Shyam said.
Asked which party would be gaining from Rajinikanth's latest move, Shyam said, "Definitely the AIADMK would have heaved a sigh of relief as Rajinikanth would have split a section of the AIADMK votes since the party has been adopting soft-Hindutva mode for a long time. So, now the AIADMK vote bank would remain with it. But Rajinikanth's decision may now have an impact on the Mission 200 of the DMK since there may not be any split of votes from the AIADMK-led alliance due to the actor."
Shyam also said though the MNM, AMMK, DMDK, and NTK claim to be third forces, their actual strengths could be ascertained only after the 2021 Assembly elections. "Also, these parties can only improve their performance more than the last elections but not in a position to register a significant increase in their vote base. A third force may become a reality if a few of these parties come together ahead of the Assembly elections. So, in a nutshell, as of now the contest is between AIADMK Vs DMK," he added.