The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Baptism by fast for southern superstar
- rajnikant marks political foray with hungerstrike over cauvery waters

Chennai, Oct. 13: Tamil superstar Rajnikant marked his foray into the political arena today with a day’s fast to press for the release of Cauvery waters by Karnataka.

The first appearance of Rajnikant in the public sphere since the controversy over his film Baba follows the Tamil film industry’s massive rally at Neyveli yesterday.

Dressed in white kurta-pyjama for his new role, the star was smiles all through as political heavyweights, from former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram and DMK leader and former city mayor M.K. Stalin to Union minister T.R. Baalu, and a posse of filmstars led by Kamalahasan cheered him.

A dais with portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar and his guruji — whom Rajnikant portrayed in Baba — in the background rather symbolically conveyed the message that the superstar will take to politics in the near future.

Sporting a black strap in protest, the fasting Rajnikant, even if simple, created a louder impact than yesterday’ star-studded show.

His Karnataka connections came in for some abrasive attack at Neyveli but most filmstars who participated in it were also seen at the fast site today. The only exception was film director Bharathi Raja.

Even as hundreds of youths came to cheer their idol, members of the Rajni Film Fans’ Association observed a fast in all the district headquarters.

“The Centre must implement the Supreme Court order somehow or the other,” Rajnikant said after a five-year-old girl offered him a glass of juice at 5 pm. He soon left for Raj Bhavan to present a memorandum to the Governor.

Notwithstanding the political differences spilling over into the film fraternity’s rival shows in Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery waters issue, farmers in this delta’s tail-end are only praying to the rain gods.

But unlike the regional chauvinism so apparent at Neyveli, Rajnikant’s fast had a certain earnestness about it — an effort to put national interests over regional. He advised DMK chief M. Karunanidhi to refrain from coming to the fast venue.

“It looks like Rajnikant is entering a new field of activity. My best wishes,” said Kamalahasan.

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