Satyanarayana Rao Gaikwad, superstar Rajinikanth's elder brother, has opined that the time is ripe for the actor to make his debut in Tamil Nadu politics. Speaking to The Quint, Satyanarayana has said, "I think this is 100% the right time. But he will wait and watch for some time. He will finish his film next year. He will also see what happens in Tamil Nadu politics now."
Rajinikanth's name pops up every now and then when there are discussions on who will become TN's next charismatic leader. With Jayalalithaa passing away and Karunanidhi, in the opposite camp, well into his nineties, the whispers have grown louder this time around.
Satyanarayana had said just a few months ago, in September, that the family did not wish Rajinikanth to enter politics. He made this comment to the press soon after the family conducted a special pooja at the Ramnatha Swamy Temple in Rameshwaram. At that time, Satyanarayana told The Deccan Chronicle that he'd done the pooja for the speedy recovery of Jayalalithaa who'd been hospitalised that month.
Rajinikanth is known to be a BJP sympathizer and on good terms with PM Narendra Modi. Modi has previously visited Rajinikanth when he was in hospital and even made a "courtesy call" at his residence ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.
Rajinikanth hasn't ventured into commenting on politics too often but the few times that he has, he's been clear about his affiliations. In 1996, Rajinikanth had famously declared that nothing could save Tamil Nadu if AIADMK came to power. The DMK won that election and the Rajini factor was considered to be one among the reasons for the rival party's loss. In 2004, he said that his vote was for the BJP before the General Elections but this statement hardly had an impact and the BJP failed to make any inroads in the state.
Satyanarayana has frequently spoken to the press about his brother who enjoys the status of a demigod in Tamil Nadu. When Rajinikanth was still Shivaji, he used to load rice sacks on to trucks for a living in Bengaluru. It was Satyanarayana who reportedly decided that the young Shivaji should become a bus conductor. It was under his encouragement that Shivaji sat for an entrance exam and obtained the conductor's license.
From updates about his health to his political inclinations, Satyanarayana has functioned as an unofficial spokesperson for Rajinikanth. With the BJP looking to build their base in Tamil Nadu and the current state of flux in the two Dravidian parties, it remains to be seen if the longstanding 'will he, won't he' debate about Rajinikanth joining politics will come to a conclusion.