Little known party drives the craze for Rajinikanth’s big names

Rajinikanth will announce its political party on December 31st

Superstar Rajinikanth could contest Tamil Nadu elections next year by using a newly registered party, Makkal Sevai Katchi (People’s Savings Party), with the autorickshaw as a symbol as a springboard.

The party was registered last year by family members of a leader of Rajinikanth’s outfit Rajini Makkal Mandram. Speculation peaked when it was revealed that the party had recently requested two symbols that have a clear Rajinikanth connection.

The party’s first preference was the two-finger symbol (the “rock-on” gesture Rajinikanth used in the film “Baba”) and the second choice was the auto rickshaw. The electoral body assigned the second – a memory of another popular Rajini star, “Basha,” in which he played an auto rickshaw driver.

When reports of Rajinikanth’s possible new party surfaced even before his big New Year’s Eve announcement, his team appealed to the members of his outfit to wait for official information. But it didn’t deny or even confirm the reports.

The Makkal Sevai Katchi party was previously registered with the Electoral Commission as “Anaithindia Makkal Shakthi Kazhagam”. The application listed an address in northern Chennai.

Rajinikanth, 70, was not named as either a petitioner or a public official.

In September “Anaithindia Makkal Shakthi Kazhagam” was renamed “Makkal Sevai Katchi”.

A new request has been sent to the party to assign a symbol.

“Although the application for the common symbol did not come from Rajinikanth, the cover letter mentioned his name,” sources in the poll told NDTV.

Since registering in February 2019, the Makkal Sevai Katchi has not contested an election.

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The party was registered by the family members of AJ Stalin, a district head of Rajinikanth’s outfit.

SP James is the party’s president, Antony Joe Raja is the general secretary and Maria John Augustus is the party’s treasurer. All three are also members of a trust established by AJ Stalin.

The party’s financial statements for the year 2018-19 accessed by NDTV show “Rs 0.34 lakhs” as income and the same as expenses.

Antony Joe Raja refused to comment on his political party and its connections with Rajinikanth.

Rajinikanth, who founded the Rajini Makkal Mandram two years ago, will announce his political party on December 31, before launching it in January, five months before the elections in Tamil Nadu.

Earlier this month, the hugely popular star announced that he was ready to take the plunge and that it was “now or never”.

He promised “spiritual, secular politics” and a “miracle” in the polls, and previewed a blockbuster campaign that will include fellow actor Kamal Haasan.

In October there were reports that Rajinikanth was unwilling to join the politicians because his doctors warned him about Covid because of his kidney transplant.

This is the first election in Tamil Nadu without the political giants J Jayalalithaa, the former prime minister and AIADMK chief who died in office in 2016, and DMK’s rival M Karunanidhi who died in 2018. In the absence of a towering political figure, two seasoned actors are expected to shake up the vote.

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