13 Aug 2002
Fans of Rajnikanth have threatened action against Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S Ramadoss for casting a slur on the superstar.
According to reports, they are mulling over the possibility of holding demonstrations at public rallies of Ramadoss "until he apologises".
After calling for the bifurcation of Tamil Nadu along caste lines, Ramadoss kicked off a fresh row when he addressed the PMK women's wing at the coastal town of Poompuhar a few days ago.
In his address, Ramadoss made caustic remarks about Rajnikanth without mentioning the superstar's name.
Participating in the 100-day celebrations of a Kannada movie of actor Puneeth Rajakumar in Bangalore, Rajnikanth referred to the actor's father Rajakumar, who was abducted by Veerappan, and called for the brigand's elimination.
Referring to Rajnikanth's remarks, Ramadoss said, "One actor here has made crores and crores in Tamil cinema. What has he given to the state in return?"
If Ramadoss is angry by the fact that Veerappan is a Vanniar, the community that forms the PMK base, Rajnikanth fans are even more upset because he referred to the superstar as avan (that guy).
The fans have not taken to the streets till now because they do not want any law and order problem during the release of Baba, Rajnikanth's latest flick, on August 15. They feel that any action by PMK cadres could keep the ordinary cinemagoers away from the halls.
PMK sources claim that Rajnikanth may have spoken out against Veerappan because he wants to keep Rajakumar's fans in good humour ahead of the release of Baba in Karnataka.
At a function in Hyderabad last week, Rajnikanth had released the audiocassette of Baba's Telugu version in the presence of local film star Chiranjeevi.
"There he made another strong speech, hinting that Baba could be his last movie. The idea was for him to keep his Tamil fans on tenterhooks, so that he could reap the maximum box-office collection for the film," said a PMK source.
"He has adopted similar tactics ahead of releasing his earlier films, too. And this tendency to take the Tamil film audience for granted is what Ramadoss brought out," he said.
Ramadoss, it is said, may also be worried about Rajnikanth's possible entry into politics after the release of Baba.
"It is his way of defending his fortress, but in doing so he may have distanced Rajni fans, including those from his Vanniar community and the PMK. While the PMK has its base only in 13 revenue districts of the state, as Ramadoss himself said while demanding bifurcation of Tamil Nadu, Rajni fans are spread across all 29 revenue districts," a source said.