Who are you?

I continue with my political commentaries. This one sparked by an article thrown up by my dear Google Assistant. Ok Google, here we go. One of the most powerful questions asked in recent Political history - Who are you? The question was posed during the recent visit of actor turning (I guess he is still undecided) politician Rajinikanth to Thoothukudi in the aftermath of the Sterlite protest and the eventual closure of the plant. A tad too late sir. The damage is already done and the people are still fresh from licking their wounds and mourning their deceased (or should we say murdered) although they have succeeded in shutting down the plant (for now). 

Considered to be the Superstar and darling of the masses, the star expected a rousing welcome from the people. However, what he encountered showed three things emerging in Tamil Nadu that could be the start of something new and promising. Stardom stops at the Cinema theater. Do not expect the starry-eyed fans to continue worshipping you outside the screen. The angst of the people to apathy from leaders and the absence of blind faith of the people in leaders or stars anymore. More importantly, the people are waking up to the realization that they are responsible for the plight they are in and it is their responsibility to get themselves out of it with each other’s help. We have seen this in two issues already – the ban on Jallikkattu and the Sterlite fiasco.

The conspicuous absence of Rajinikanth or his support to the 100-day protest showed that he could not join the protest or support the people either due to pressure from his (spiritual) backers or he had a completely booked schedule for his upcoming movies. Either way, he missed the bus to visit Thoothukudi to understand the situation there and lend a shoulder to the people. After all, his support could have helped turn things in the people’s favor sooner and ultimately in his favor. Looks like he lost the opportunity and most importantly along with that, the trust of the people.

Don’t take me wrong, I am a huge fan of Rajinikanth and eagerly awaiting his latest release (tickets for Kaala anyone?). I will be more than willing to part with my 120 bucks or even more for a First Day First Show, but, would I vote for him? Given his leanings, no.

That said, leaning or otherwise, we need a new, able, strong leader for the people today and Tamil Nadu more than ever is at a point where with the exit of Ms. Jayalalitha and the indisposition of Mr. Karunanidhi have a lot of raw untested leaders politicians at the helm. This has given way to new entrants with even lesser experience in politics like Mr. Rajinikanth and Mr. Kamal Hassan to throw in their hats. Despite the lack of experience, if they can convince the people of their agenda and principles and back it up with innovative, workable solutions, we might actually have a leader in the making for the people.

While we are on the topic of new entrants, Mr. Kamal Hassan would have got a second-hand glimpse of what he can expect from the people of Tamil Nadu. A glorious career in films or a massive fan following is not enough to gain the trust and faith of the people. You need to think of them, their problems and come up with solutions and take them into the future. He needs to be strong enough to stand up against pressure from his own cadres, political supporters, the opposition and the industry (after all, they are the primary bankrollers for any political party). He needs to ensure always that the people are the Maiam (center) in his Makkal Needhi Maiam.

Lastly, the most important person(s) to be wary of this changing political climate are the people themselves. This time, you need to understand what is more important to you when you cast your all-important vote to decide your leader. Vote for a leader who will work with you for you. Also, have patience to see the fruits of the labor of the new leaders (If you choose to elect them). Ask yourselves the all-important question – Who are you?  If you are someone who gets swayed by the glitz and glamour of the personality or if you are felled by the cheap sops that are dished out come election time (think RK Nagar), your situation will remain unchanged. Sindhikkavum. Vaakkazhikkavum. (Think. Vote.)