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Rajini slams efforts to ‘paint me in saffron’

'Neither Thiruvalluvar nor me will get trapped.'

  • Published 9.11.19, 6:14 AM
  • Updated 9.11.19, 6:14 AM
  • a min read
Rajinikanth in Chennai on Friday. (PTI)

Tamil cinema’s biggest star Rajinikanth, perceived widely as a probable entrant to the BJP, on Friday said the party had not invited him to join it and alleged that “some people, some media” were trying to falsely “paint me with saffron”.

A PTI report said that when asked about his recent meeting with BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan, who has been saying the actor should join the party, Rajinikanth said: “No offer has been made (by the BJP), definitely not.”

He added: “Attempts are being made to paint me with BJP colour — to paint me with saffron (as was done with) Thiruvalluvar…. Neither Thiruvalluvar nor me will get trapped.”

The BJP has been roasted after its state unit tweeted an image of the revered 6th-century poet sage Thiruvalluvar dressed in saffron robes, smeared with ash and wearing rudraksha rosaries. Most images of Thiruvalluvar show him in white robes without any religious or caste indicators.

Rajinikanth said: “Some people, some media — they are trying to colour me as a BJP man. But definitely it is not true.”

The actor, 68, had formed the Rajini Makkal Mandram (Rajini People’s Forum) before the general election, saying it would focus on the 2021 Assembly polls. A precursor to a political party, the forum draws its cadre from the actor’s fan clubs.

Political columnist Ramajayam P, assistant professor at the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Tiruchirapalli’s Bharathidasan University, said he saw Rajinikanth’s comments as an attempt to carve out a political identity for himself distinct from the BJP.

“He has been playing this game of coming close to and drifting away from the BJP. After the Lok Sabha elections, it’s clear the Modi wave has not touched Tamil Nadu, and Rajinikanth wants to play it safe,” he said.

“Rajinikanth’s understanding seems to be that the national scene is not reflected in Tamil Nadu, and the saffronisation of Thiruvalluvar is not possible in the short term in the state where linguistic and cultural identity is more important.”