In an announcement which may alter political equations in Tamil Nadu, superstar Rajinikanth yesterday announced his much-speculated entry into politics saying he would launch a party before the next state Assembly polls, triggering jubilation among his fans. His decision comes at a time when the state is witnessing a political churning after the death of chief minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa and virtual retirement of nonagenarian DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Amid a thunderous applause from his fans, Rajinikanth, clad in a white kurta, declared, “I am joining politics and it is for sure.” Espousing a new line of “spiritual politics,” the 67- year-old actor, whose inimitable style and quick reflexes have won the hearts of cine-goers over the decades, said his (yet- to-be named) party would contest all the 234 seats in the next Assembly polls, due in 2021.
The party would be launched ahead of the state election at “an appropriate time”, Rajinikanth said. The cine superstar, who has a mammoth fan base, alleged that in democracy, parties were “plundering” their own people and such a system needed to be changed democratically. In an apparent indication of keeping his options open for any possible tie-ups in the future, the actor asked his supporters to refrain from criticising or talking about everyday politics. “Till such time (the launch of the party), let no one make any comment or criticise everyday politics. Those who are already in politics need to do that and we will launch our narrative once we enter the political mainstream,” he told his fans here at the conclusion of a six-day-long photo-session meet.
The announcement, which ended two decades of speculation over joining of politics by the actor, who enjoys a cult status in Tamil cinema, evoked mixed reactions from different quarters. While the ruling AIADMK and the DMK indicated that the development would not affect them, sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran and, actors Kamal Hassan and Amitabh Bachchan welcomed Rajinikanth’s political debut. Batting for honesty in politics and good governance, Rajinikanth said “everything needs to be changed” and declared that “spiritual politics” should be ushered in with transparency sans shades of any caste or religion. “This is my motto and desire,” he said sporting a grey beard and displaying his famed “baba mudra”.
Rajinikanth appealed to the people to support him in his venture, which, he said, was not possible for him to do it alone.
“During the era of kings, they plundered the countries of their enemies. However, in democracy, parties are plundering their own people and such a system needs to be changed democratically,” he said. He asked “volunteers” to see to it that attempts to prevent amenities and rights reaching the people were foiled. Asserting that he will not tolerate nepotism or dishonest dealings, Rajinikanth said, “I want volunteers who will keep vigil and who will not go to any officials, ministers or MPs, or MLAs for selfish needs.” “I am only a representative of the people to monitor such vigilantes,” the actor said, adding such a force of selfless volunteers not acting as cadres but as “vigilantes” was the need of the hour. The first task would be streamlining the existing registered and unregistered fan clubs across the state the actor said.
The fan clubs should penetrate every nook and corner of the state, he said and appealed to them to bring all sections of people into their fold. This would help transforming it into a party and “till then there is no need to indulge in political talk, which includes me,” he said, virtually imposing a gag. “Politics and democracy have gone pretty bad,” Rajinikanth said, adding some political incidents in the state in the past one year has made “every Tamilian” hang his head in shame while people of other states were “laughing at us.” The actor’s remark is seen as a reference to the bitter infighting in the ruling AIADMK after Jayalalithaa’s death and charges and counter-charges of corruption.
Quoting a verse from the Bhagawad Gita, which stresses the importance of doing one’s duty and leaving the result to the lord, the actor said, “This is the compulsion of time.” The superstar said contesting the local body polls, expected to be held in the coming months, was not possible in such a short time. Entering politics was not for name or fame, he said and rhetorically asked why would he hanker for power now when he did not do so at the age of 45 when he voiced his first political message in 1996 against then chief minister Jayalalithaa. Stressing that the public would be told about the policies and action-plan of the proposed party, Rajinikanth said if such promises “could not be fulfilled we will voluntarily resign within three years.”
The superstar’s announcement came after his long-time friend and fellow actor Kamal Haasan gave an indication about the latter’s political entry. Rajinikanth began his address hailing the Tamil people who gave him a “life” and ended his nearly 20-minute speech by thanking them, Tamil Nadu and capped it with a “Jai Hind.” When reporters asked him whether there had been too much of a waiting game for his political entry, he said, “I am not afraid of coming to politics, I am only afraid of the media, I am still a child, how I will feel.”