More than two months after announcing his political entry, actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth answered one of the biggest criticisms raised against him – the timing over his plunge.
Speaking at the MGR University in Chennai’s Maduravoyal, Rajini said, “They ask why I didn't enter when Jayalalithaa was ruling. ‘Was it fear,’ they ask? I don't have to remind what happened in 1996. Did I come to politics because of a vacuum? Yes. There is a vacuum...for a good leader. Jayalalithaa was a talented leader. Karunandhi...even though he was not in power for 13, he held the party together. Tamilnadu needs a leader and I come to fill in.”
The event at MGR University to unveil a statue and portrait of the former Chief Minister, marked the actor's first public engagement since he formally announced his political entry on December 31 last year.
While acknowledging that there cannot be another MGR for another 1000 years, Rajini noted, “MGR was a yuva purusha and even after 1000 years there can't be another person like him. I have the confidence to replicate MGR's good governance. Using technology and good advisers and talented people I can deliver good governance.”
He also revealed, for the first time, the personal equation he shared with former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran.
Speaking about a difficult time in his life when the former CM helped see him through, Rajinikanth said, “In 1978, I had a nervous breakdown. MGR phoned and enquired about me. They asked me to first speak to CM MGR. He asked me to meet him two days later. He advised me as an actor to take care of my health. He asked me to get married first and asked me to intimate him first. When my marriage was fixed with Latha, he was the first one I informed. But there was a delay due to an issue in the marriage. Three days later, her family agreed. MGR has spoken to YG(Mahendra), Latha's brother and assured them(the family) that I'd take care of her well, though I'm short tempered.”
Rajinikanth also said that MGR helped him get the documents for the construction of his Raghavendra wedding hall within 3 days.
Addressing questions about his brand of politics, Rajinikanth once again explained the meaning of his oft-quoted 'spiritual politics’. “Spiritual government is nothing but a transparent, welfare, and pure government. Spiritual politics means faith in God,” he explained.
Pointing out the inevitability of him having to speak about politics at the student event, he said to thunderous applause, “The present government and politicians are asking why are actors leaving their makeup and coming to take over their jobs as politicians? I am 67 years now, and since you are not doing your duty I am stepping in. Many say actors shouldn't enter politics as politicians don't enter politics. I tell them, I do my work properly. But you haven't done your work properly.”
In an appeal vastly different from many other political leaders including actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, Rajini urged students not to get involved in politics. “I ask students not to participate in politics. Vote but don't interfere or indulge in politics,” he urged.
In yet another contrary position to his Dravidian counterparts, Rajinikanth advised students to learn more languages. He said, “I studied in Kannada medium, secured 98%. So later when they put me in English medium I became an average student. Change of language is a problem. Learn to speak English to improve professionally. Only when Tamils develop Tamil language will develop.”