Superstar Rajinikanth was one of the first to vote at his polling station in Chennai’s Stella Maris College, which falls under the Thousand Lights Assembly constituency. The actor arrived ten minutes past 7 am, when polling officially began in Tamil Nadu, and finished voting within minutes, returning to his Poes Garden residence. However, the superstar did not speak to the media after he cast his vote, choosing not to endorse any political party.
Ahead of the 1996 polls, Rajini’s statement against then Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa is believed to have helped the DMK-TMC combine win the Assembly election. He had then said, “Even God can’t save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa returns to power.” The statement came on the back of mounting public anger against Jayalalithaa following the ostentatious display of wealth during the wedding of her foster son Sudhakaran. Years later, however, Rajinikanth termed his statement a “political accident”.
In the 2011 Assembly Elections, the actor’s privacy was breached at the polling booth when video cameras caught him pushing the two-leaves button. The video, which was broadcast on television news channels, was subsequently withdrawn after the Election Commission warned of action against the videographer and the broadcaster. At the time, Rajini had told the media, "The price rise is an issue and we want a stable government. This election is crucial and very tough."
While Rajini’s ideology is closely aligned with the BJP, having supported issues like the interlinking of rivers and demonetisation, he has chosen not to endorse any political party since 1996. Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, then Prime Ministerial face Narendra Modi had visited Rajinikanth at his residence in Chennai amid speculation that he would seek his endorsement. However, Rajini at the time said, “We are good friends and there is nothing political about this meeting."
Rajini, who had vacillated on his political entry for years, opted out of the electoral battle in December, citing his health and the COVID-19 pandemic. With much fanfare, the superstar had on December 31, 2017 announced his entry into politics after decades of speculation. While his fan clubs were reorganised into the Rajini Makkal Mandram, considered a precursor to the political party, the actor dropped out of the electoral battle in December 2020.
After announcing his decision, several political parties including his friend and colleague Kamal Haasan of the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) had hoped to secure his endorsement ahead of the 2021 Assembly Elections. However, Rajinikanth’s aide and RMM convenor Sudhakar had announced that the superstar would not be extending his support to any political party.