CHENNAI: Actor Rajinikanth cast his vote on Wednesday just like many other voters in Chennai. But there was a difference. While others went behind the makeshift ply-board screen to exercise their franchise in privacy, the actor was caught in the act of pushing the button against the two-leaves’ symbol on the electronic voting machine by the flashing cameras.
Mobbed by the huge gathering of media representatives at the polling booth in Stella Maris college, which falls within the Thousand Lights constituency, a smiling Rajinikanth, unaware of the mischievous visuals and the controversy brewing over his secret ballot being bared, said, “The price rise is an issue and we want a stable government. This election is crucial and very tough.” However, after the initial enthusiasm, a couple of television channels that began to telecast the visuals showing Rajinikanth pressing the button hastily pulled back the visuals after a warning by the chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar. “Telecasting such visuals is a crime. Both the videographer and the broadcaster will be punished,” the officer told TOI.
Sources said the actor, who had a date with the DMK chief M Karunanidhi in the evening to watch a film, informed Kalaignar’s close aides that the channels had insisted on him repeating the act of pressing a button and his finger had strayed to the two-leaves’ symbol representing the AIADMK candidate B Valarmathi in a symbolic gesture. The DMK leadership seems to have accepted the explanation as Karunanidhi watched the film Ponnar Shankar’, scripted by him, with Rajnikanth at the Prasad preview theatre in the evening.
In the run up to the elections, many politicians, including the deputy chief minister and Kolathur candidate MK Stalin, had called on Rajinikanth to seek his support for the elections. Interestingly, in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the actor came out of a polling booth of the central Madras constituency happily showing two fingers in a sign of peace, a symbolic indication of which party he had voted for.
Later in a conversation with TOI, Rajinikanth was non committal about taking the political plunge. “Politics, I don’t know. Let’s see, God only knows,” he replied to a query. Speaking at length on the corruption issue, he said he would like to join the Anna Hazare movement. “I will join Anna Hazare in his fight against corruption, which is a major issue in the country now. We should tackle it in a big way,” he said.