Rajinikanth puts off announcement on political entry yet again

Published : November 30, 2020 19:48 IST

Rajinikanth after meeting with senior functionaries of Rajini Makkal Mandram, in Chennai on November 30. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/PTI

Actor Rajinikanth, who has been thinking of entering politics ahead of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections due in mid-2021, has once again put off announcing his decision on launching a political party or lending his support to other parties. He was widely expected to make an announcement at his meeting with the office-bearers of Rajini Makkal Mandram, an extension of his fans’ club, in Chennai on November 30.

Earlier, hundreds of Rajinikanth supporters had gathered at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam, a marriage hall owned by him, in Chennai hoping that the matinee idol would finally take the political plunge. “I will announce my decision as soon as possible,” he told the media, using a variation of a line that he has been uttering for about three years now. He said that the district secretaries of the Rajini Makkal Mandram had assured him that they would abide by any decision he took.

Since December 2017, Rajinikanth has been toying with the idea of entering politics after the demise of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December 2016. His thinking seemed to have been influenced by three additional factors: the death of former Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi in 2018; the formation of a political party by another leading light of Tamil cinema, Kamal Hassan; and repeated nudges and pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But, like an actor who reads a film script and thinks of plot changes before playing his role, he seemed to have been weighing the pluses and minuses of various scenarios.

The actor did not enter politics ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because he was not sure of his support among among the people then. He announced his decision to stay away from the general election much ahead of time. On another occasion, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the functioning of the office-bearers of his Mandram. In October this year, he cited Covid-19 as the reason for postponing a decision on his political entry. When an anonymous, and mysterious, Whatsapp message referring to his health status started doing the rounds, he said though it was not circulated by him its contents were true.

There was speculation that Union Home Minister Amit Shah would meet Rajinikanth during his Chennai visit on November 22. Neither the BJP nor Rajini confirmed these media speculation. A Sangh parivar senior who meets Rajinikanth regularly was the contact between the two, according to one source. The BJP did not have any special demands on Rajini barring reminding him of his ‘important position’ in Tamil Nadu and requesting him not to waste that position. It was suggested that Rajinikanth should at least lend his voice to a political combine that he felt ideologically close to; a suggestion which was not dismissed by the actor.

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