Clever charisma

Actor Rajinikanth’s press meet in Chennai Tuesday was an indication that he, at last, was taking shape as a shrewd leader. For, there were implicit potshots aimed at politicos during his interaction with the media, but none could find fault or criticise him, at least out in the open, for it was wrapped with many smart words. He spoke about everything and everyone – Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Kamal Haasan, BJP, Congress, AIADMK, linking of rivers, projects such as hydrocarbon, etc. There were both bouquets and brickbats. But there is no criticism from any quarter.

Acknowledging that there was an anti-Modi wave in Tamilnadu that led to the rout of the BJP and its alliance partners in the State in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls, he, however, said except in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, there was a pro-Modi wave. The superstar, who would be attending Modi’s swearing-in ceremony as Prime Minister for a second term, hailed him as a charismatic leader. “In India, after Nehru, Indira Gandhi was a charismatic leader, Rajiv Gandhi, Vajpayee, were also such leaders. In Tamil Nadu, Kamaraj was a charismatic leader. The election victory for the BJP is a victory for Modi’s leadership,” he said.

Rajini said issues such as hydrocarbon extraction, NEET, the Opposition’s whirlwind campaign, could have gone against the BJP in Tamilnadu. He welcomed the announcement to link the Krishna-Godavari rivers, and said it had to be really appreciated that it was announced despite the NDA suffering such a massive defeat in Tamilnadu. On Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s offer to step down from the party post, the actor said Rahul should not quit. “The thing is it is very difficult to handle the Congress party. Senior-most people are there. So as a youngster it is difficult. In my observation, the senior leaders have not cooperated. He should not resign, he should stand firmly,” he said. Finally, he also answered a question about his friend and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan and said, “Kamal has got four per cent votes in such a short time. I congratulate him for that.”

NT Bureau