Describing Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan as "marginal political players", senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has said they remain very popular film stars but are unable to attract public opinion to their point of view in political terms.
Mr Aiyar, who has been named in three key panels set up by the Congress for Tamil Nadu polls, asserted that superstar Rajinikanth's decision that he will not enter electoral politics will not make any difference as the state prepares for the assembly polls.
"When he (Rajinikanth) said he was going to come into politics, I said it is not going to make a tinker's difference, now that he has decided not to come into politics, I repeat what I said, it is not going to make a tinker's difference," Mr Aiyar told PTI in an interview.
"Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are not anything but marginal political players," the former Union minister said.
It was different in the old days when people like M G Ramachandran (MGR), Sivaji Ganesan and even Jayalalithaa were involved in films that carried a revolutionary social message, he said.
"Since these two (Rajinikanth and Haasan) have never used cinema as a medium for a political message, they remain what they are -- very very popular film stars, but not people who attract public opinion to their point of view in political terms," Mr Aiyar said.
He argued that there have been no two actors more popular on the Hindi silver screen than Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna, but "what flops they were in politics".
The same thing applies in the South, he added.
Making a U-turn, superstar Rajinikanth last month announced he will not enter politics in view of his frail health, putting an end to his long-nurtured plans and describing his recent hospitalisation as God's warning.
"Only I know the pain behind making this announcement," the 70-year-old actor had said.
Mr Haasan had launched Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) in February 2018 and the party had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but could not win a single seat.
Mr Haasan, through his ongoing poll campaign, has latched on to the welfare legacy of MGR and has been attacking both the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over alleged corruption.