New Delhi: A mysterious last-minute candidate from Tamil Nadu's Mylapore constituency has sparked off intense speculation among voters that southern megastar Rajinikanth may be contesting the polls incognito.
Both the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have lodged a battle of populism in the state readying for this month’s crucial assembly elections.
In Mylapore, a traditional stronghold of the DMK, a mystery candidate filed his nomination papers on March 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm citing his name in the records as SR Gaekwad.
Very little is known otherwise about the candidate who will be fighting Jayanthi Thangabalu of the Congress and Rajalakshmi of the AIADMK from Mylapore. All three candidates are little known to the residents of Mylapore.
Gaekwad, dressed in a white trousers and a short-sleeved white shirt, had dark glasses on when he filed his papers to the Returning Officer at the Mylapore taluk. He refused to speak to the waiting media and drove off in a white Ambassador that had a Maharashtra license plate number 1411.
Actor Rajinikanth, who enjoys demi-god status in the south, has always dismissed reports of joining politics and is currently filming for his upcoming mega-venture 'Rana' that also stars Bollywood actor Vidya Balan in a lead role. He was unavailable for comments.
But his real name – Shivaji Rao Gaekwad – has led the local media to speculate if independent candidate SR Gaekwad is indeed the southern star participating in the Tamil Nadu polls under his real name.
Poll pundits in the state are trying to deduce the outcome of the election if indeed Rajinikanth, who has millions of fan following worldwide, enters the contest.
Both DMK supremo and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, who tried to win over voters through a plethora of freebies that include ceiling fans, mixer-grinders and laptops, initially pooh-poohed reports that there is a real chance that
Rajinikanth may be fighting the TN polls as an independent candidate.
But a worried DMK minister, speaking on conditions of anonymity, told IBNLive that the party's top brass held several hectic parleys in the last four days trying to decide a strategy if Rajinikanth contests the polls. They were quick to shift the responsibility on their arch rivals AIADMK.
"Clearly this a AIADMK conspiracy to defeat the DMK-led alliance in the state," the minister said. "This Gaekwad fellow, if he is the real Rajinikanth, can pose a serious concern for the entire state. Laptops, mobile phones or mixer grinders will not work against him if he sets his mind on winning the elections."
The AIADMK camp is equally worried about the poll outcome but its leaders have advised its followers not to respond to a bizarre rumour floating around that the mystery candidate was spotted at several places at one time greeting voters and signing what appeared suspiciously as autograph books.
The rumour may have originated from Rajinikanth's last mega-hit Endhiran where he plays a scientist who created a robot that was a clone of himself.
An official on the production team of 'Rana' said, strictly on conditions of anonymity, that the superstar has requested a month's leave from shooting to take care of "personal business."
While repeated calls to the actor went unanswered, the people of Tamil Nadu have largely welcomed the news saying that if Gaekwad turns out to be Rajinikanth, he will be the right person to bring in much-needed reforms in the state.
Said the editor of IBNLIve.com to all readers when publishing this report, "there is no reason to believe any of this." He confirmed that this report was a figment of the imagination, in keeping with the spirit of the first of April.