âAutokkaaran, autokkaaran, naalum therijna rootukkaaranâ (I am an auto-driver who knows all the ways) is Rajinikanthâs famous introductory song as an auto-rickshaw driver in his iconic super hit film âBaashaâ (1995). Looks like Rajini the politician will ride the same auto-rickshaw for this summerâs Assembly election as well.
Though it is not official yet the Election Commission has allotted the âAuto-rickshawâ symbol to a newly registered party called âMakkal Sevai Katchi,â (MSK) believed to be the party floated by Tamil superstar. Loosely translated the partyâs name means âPeople Service Partyâ and its presidentâs address is given as Ernavoor, near Chennai where Rajinikanth has a farmhouse. Rajinikanth will announce the name of his party on Dec 31 this year and launch it sometime in January after the Pongal festival. Presently he is busy completing his schedule for the Tamil film âAnnatheâ (Elder Brother) at Hyderabad.
The ubiquitous three-wheeler popularly known only as âautoâ in Tamil Nadu has a ready peopleâs connect since it is piloted mostly by those belonging to the working class and used by the middle class â Rajiniâs target groups. Most autorickshaw drivers have been Rajini fans, especially after the release of âBaashaâ a movie in which he becomes an auto-driver in Chennai to live down his earlier avatar of a don from Mumbai only to be dragged back into the violent world.
MSK had originally sought the symbol of âtwo-finger poseâ which is represented by raised fore and small fingers while the thumb held down the other two fingers. The symbol, made famous by Rajiniâs other film âBabaâ, was refused by the EC since it looked similar to the hand symbol of the Congress. So its second choice of autorickshaw was allotted and the party had also indicated in its application that it would be contesting all the 234 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.
While Rajiniâs fans are celebrating, actor Kamal Haasan and his supporters are fuming after the EC chose not to allot the âBattery Torchâ symbol that had been given to his party âMakkal Needhi Maiamâ (MNM) for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Instead, a little known party âMGR Makkal Katchiâ has been given the symbol in Tamil Nadu while the MNM has been allotted the Torch in neighbouring Puducherry. Kamal has expressed his anger and disappointment at the development. His party plans to challenge the denial of the Torch symbol having been allotted the same earlier. âWe have been popularizing the Torch symbol in the hope it would be allotted once more to us for the election symbol,â party spokesperson Kumaravel said.
With Kamal, presently touring the state and announcing his intent to contest the Assembly election as an MNM candidate, the symbol is bound to become a prestige legal battle unless the EC restores it to the MNM. Meanwhile, another fledgeling party âAmma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagamâ (AMMK) floated by TTV Dhinakaran has managed to the âPressure Cookerâ symbol-using which Dhinakaran had won the famous RK Nagar Assembly byelection in 2017 as an independent defeating both the AIADMK and DMK. However, the party was refused the âPressure Cookerâ symbol for the Lok Sabha election and instead its candidates had to contest that election with the common symbol of âGift Boxâ but failed to win a single seat. Ever since its defeat in the LS election and the Assembly byelections held along with it, the party has been seeking the reallotment of the 'Pressure Cooker' symbol.