Actor Rajinikanth backs PM Narendra Modi

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Chennai, Nov 13 (PTI) Top Tamil actor Rajinikanth appeared to back Narendra Modi Tuesday in the backdrop of a mega opposition coalition shaping up against the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, saying the prime minister seemed to be a “strong” man.

He also clarified on his statement made Monday about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) being “dangerous” for its opponents, saying he made the remarks only in the context of the opposition parties.

Referring to his interaction with the media Monday, the superstar said he was asked about many political parties joining hands to defeat the BJP and whether it was such a dangerous party.

“My answer was the opposition parties think so (the BJP is dangerous). When they think so, the BJP is a dangerous party for them…,” he said.

However, “people will decide” if the BJP was indeed “dangerous” or not, Rajinikanth told reporters here.

The actor was seeking to clarify his statement made Monday, when he was asked if the BJP was such a (electorally) “dangerous” party that it warranted the formation of a mega national alliance against it.

He had said, “If they (opposition parties) feel that way, then it should definitely be like that.”

Asked to spell out his stand on whether the BJP was “dangerous” or not, the actor said, “I cannot say that now, people should decide that.”

However, he seemed to back the prime minister, saying Modi was “stronger” than “10 persons” aligning against him.

Rajinikanth’s remarks came amid speculation that opposition parties were looking at a mega coalition against the Modi government for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“When 10 persons go against one person, who is stronger? Those 10 or the person they are aligning against? If 10 persons declare a war against one man, who is stronger?,” he asked when questioned on the possibility of an opposition alliance.

Asked if Modi was “stronger” and whether this was what he implied through his statement, the actor said he “can’t be more clear”.

When a reporter said 10 persons joining hands could also make them strong, Rajinikanth shot back, saying, “Then how strong should that one man be,” apparently referring to Modi.

To a remark by a scribe that “if Modi is very strong”, the actor laughed and said it would be evident in “2019”, apparently referring to next year’s general election.

Asked whether he would align with the BJP after he entered politics, he said it would be decided later.

Rajinikanth has already announced that he will take the political plunge and contest all the 234 seats in the next Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, originally due in 2021. However, he is yet to launch his party.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu recently visited Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M K Stalin here as part of his efforts to bring together various parties for the 2019 Lok Sabha election to dislodge the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has also been batting for opposition unity against the BJP and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a vocal critic of the saffron party-led central government.

Rajinikanth is touted to be inclined towards the BJP, with Modi himself meeting the veteran star on more than one occasion in the recent past, including once at his residence here.

The critics of the actor have often claimed that he is favourably disposed towards the saffron party.

However, on Monday, Rajinikanth had described the implementation of the 2016 demonetisation exercise by the prime minister as “flawed”.

“The implementation was flawed. It is a matter that should be discussed in detail,” he had said.

The superstar also sought to clarify his comments on the release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, alleging that attempts were on to “create an illusion” that he was ignorant about the issue.

On Monday, he had said, “Which seven convicts…I am hearing about it only now,” when scribes had posed a query in this regard.

On Tuesday, he said the question was not properly framed as there was no mention of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and that it was only posed as “seven persons”.

“Rajinikanth is not such an idiot not to know those seven persons. I had spoken to (AG) Perarivalan over the phone when he was released on parole and consoled him,” he said.

Perarivalan is one of the seven persons convicted in the case related to the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The K Palaniswami-led Tamil Nadu cabinet had, in September, recommended to Governor Banwarilal Purohit for their release, though the latter is yet to take a call on it.

Rajinikanth batted for their release on humanitarian grounds.

On the controversy surrounding actor Vijay’s film “Sarkar”, he said he condemned violence in any form and opposed the damaging of banners and stalling the film’s screening by AIADMK workers as they were opposed to the scenes showing people burning mixer-grinders — the party’s flagship scheme being burnt.

They were also opposed to a name deemed to be referring to late AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa.

Asked about the need for freebies, Rajinikanth said they were “100 per cent” required, but added that such items should not be given away just with an eye on votes.

On Palaniswami’s recent statement that the media should highlight the salaries drawn by actors, Rajinikanth said they paid taxes for their earnings.

On reports about opposition to his next film “2.O” in Karnataka by some local pro-Kannada groups, he said the government in that state would handle it.

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