A statement from Rajinikanth is expected later on Monday or on Tuesday morning.

Actor Rajinikanth waves to the crowd as he goes for meeting of Rajini Makkal Mandram to Raghavendra Kalyana MadapamImage credit: Parthiban
news Rajinikanth Monday, November 30, 2020 - 12:24

Three years after he announced that his entry into politics is imminent, actor Rajinikanth met the officer bearers of the Rajini Makkal Mandram at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai on Monday. In the closed door meeting, Rajinikanth interacted with 32 leaders of the Rajini Makkal Mandram, including district secretaries. He asked them many questions including why they believed he should start a political party and contest in the 2021 May elections. 

Soon after the meeting, speaking to the media, Stalin, an office bearer from Thoothukudi said that many of them expressed their concerns over his health, while a few maintained that Rajinikanth should announce his political party. Since Rajinikanth has several health complications, it was expected that following the advice of his doctors, he would prefer to stay away from starting a party during the pandemic. However, according to RMM office bearers, Rajinikanth who sought their opinions, will make an announcement on Monday evening or Tuesday. Many believe that with age not on his side, this could be the final window for Rajinikanth to take the political plunge.

“He will make a good announcement. But we will support him no matter what,” Anand, an office bearer from Kanyakumari said.

“My entry into politics is certain.This is the compulsion of the times. In the upcoming state assembly polls, I will start my own political party, and contest in all the 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu,” Rajinikanth had announced on New Year’s Eve in 2017. However, since then there has been little progress on the group to form a political party with the Rajini Makkal Mandram remaining nothing more than a pre-cursor.   

While it was rumoured that the superstar will make it official in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, it did not materialise. Recently, there were speculations that Rajinikanth has ended his political ambitions due to health concerns, vide a note purported to be from the superstar himself. However, Rajinikanth clarified that the note was fake but then the contents in it, about his health, are true.

Rajinikanth had already said in March 2020 that he will not be the Chief Minister face of the party. He had said then, "I have never wanted to be Chief Minister. In fact, I can't even think of sitting in the Assembly and going through those proceedings! I will be the party chief, and the CM will be someone who is educated, who is farsighted. He will be a person who can govern. And the party chief will be like an opposition leader -- we will be the first to question if anything wrong happens. We will not interfere with the governance -- there will not be two parallel power centres," he said.

Rajinikanth’s entry into politics in Tamil Nadu, which has seen three actors rise to the Chief Minister’s post in the past, has been a matter of intense speculation for decades. While observers have spent much time dissecting the superstar’s films and his punch dialogues for political messaging, it was his one-liner during the 1996 Assembly Elections that once fuelled speculation over his entry into politics for years. His statement, ‘Even god can’t save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa returns to power’ is believed to have swung votes in favour of the DMK-TMC combine during the 1996 election.    

While Rajini has since called his 1996 statement a ‘political accident’ and said he doesn’t support any political parties, in 2004, the actor said he would vote for the BJP-AIADMK alliance in the Lok Sabha Elections. On a number of issues ranging from Ram Sethu to interlinking of rivers, Rajini has toed the BJP line. The BJP has on many occasions attempted to rope in Rajinikanth for its campaigning, including in 2008 by LK Advani and in 2014 by then PM candidate Narendra Modi. However, despite the BJP’s efforts, the actor has chosen to avoid the political limelight.