Frenzied fans who had gathered here at a meeting with their hero last week erupted in joy when veteran actor and tamil superstar Rajinikanth asked them to prepare for “war”, taking it as a signal that he would join politics.
Rajinikanth is undoubtedly the tallest global star from India. His popularity is not limited to southern parts of the country and not even limited to the boundaries of India. Rajinikanth is the most popular Indian star in Southeast Asia and Japan.
Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, 67 years old, known by his mononymous stage name Rajinikanth, is an Indian film actor from Karnataka, who works primarily in Tamil cinema. He began acting in plays while working in the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor.
After earning ₹26 crore (equivalent to ₹55 crore or US$8.5 million in 2016) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he was the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan at that time.
Apart from his film career, Rajinikanth is also a philanthropist, spiritualist, and serves as an influence in Dravidian politics.
Last week, on the final day of his five-day interaction with fans, Rajinikanth reiterated his Tamil identity and gave a strong political colour to his speech. The actor called for cleaning up the political system and exhorted fans to “prepare for a battle” if necessary.
Addressing his fans in Chennai, Rajinikanth said, “…what do we do when the system is rotten, democracy has deteriorated. This system needs to be changed and a change has to be brought in the minds of people, then only will the country flourish.”
The Tamil superstars have proven to be the most formidable political personalities in the state. The last three biggest names of Tamil Nadu politics have come from Tamil films – MG Ramachandran, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.
Since late 1980s and early 1990s, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi dominated the political spectre of Tamil Nadu. They shared power almost by rotation in the state.
Now, with Jayalalithaa’s death and deteriorating health of nonagenarian Karunanidhi, there seems to be a vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics. The AIADMK has failed to settle the succession issue in the party after Jayalalithaa’s death and the result has been a visible chaos in the Tamil Nadu government.
The time is ripe for the entry of another superstar into Tamil Nadu politics. There is a vacancy in Tamil Nadu politics.
“Rajinikanth is a great actor. Modi is a great leader. There is no problem if he (Rajinikanth) wants to meet the Prime Minister,” Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters at a campus event here.
Naidu’s observation came in light of the 67-year-old megastar’s hints of entering politics soon at a meeting with his ardent fans in Chennai on Friday. “I am not aware of any possible meeting between Rajinikanth and Modi,” said Naidu after unveiling the statue of prominent industrialist and philanthropist M. S. Ramaiah, who founded the Gokula Education Foundation in the city during the early 1960s.
Naidu said the central government, however, wanted factionalism in the ruling AIADMK to end to fulfil the promises late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa made to the state’s people.
However BJP President Amit Shah, speaking at an event in New Delhi on Sunday, responded to a query on the growing speculation surrounding the superstar’s entry into politics. To a question on whether Rajinikanth will join the BJP, Shah said only the actor has to decide that.
“When he has to enter politics, how can I decide that? From our end, every good person is welcome to join politics,” he said.
Denying he had a conversation with Rajinikanth on the issue, Shah added that the actor must first decide to take the plunge into politics. Shah said one could speculate “only when Rajinikanth decides to enter politics” and that the actor has to decide first, whether or not he wants to take the plunge.
Only a few days ago Subramanian Swamy of the BJP said that Rajinikanth to stay out of politics. Swamy said that Rajinikanth’s ‘sense of politics is very bad’.
Swamy even said that Rajinikanth ‘is not well educated.’ Thalaivar Rajinikanth should come prepared for harsh realities of politics, he said.