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Politics joins superstar Rajinikanth

Now the former bus conductor is ready to steady ship in Tamil Nadu politics

Image Credit: AP
Rajinikanth gives thumbs up sign to his fans after announcement to launch his own political party, in Chennai, on Sunday.

Dubai: Finally what the devout have been waiting for.  And what his political rivals have dreaded. Politics has joined Rajinikanth. 

The matinee idol, fondly known has Rajini, was keeping the media on its toes since announcing that he would unveil his plans on the last day of 2017. That day came today.

The sceptics believed it would fizzle out like his previous ventures. His believers believed. Their patience has been rewarded now. He announced his decision to float a political party in Chennai on Sunday, where he has been meeting his fans over the last week, for the second time this year.

In Tamil Nadu politics it has been a logical progression for superstars, capitalising on their fan base, moving into politics and becoming chief ministers. M.G. Ramachandran, J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi have been heads of states. A long list of stars started their own parties or joined hands with a political party to start a second innings. 

A brief look at Rajni’s political background tells us that just by giving his backing to the DMK-Tamil Manila Congress, combine, he helped them to sweeping success. This made his fans feel that he would enter politics in the 1990s. His movie dialogues loaded with political innuendoes added to the suspense. 

But it was not to be. His political rivals mocked, saying Rajini would never enter politics and only keeps fans on tenterhooks.

Rajini has declared he will contest the 234 assembly seats in the next elections. The decision to contest the 2019 parliamentary elections is to be taken at an appropriate time. He ruled out contesting any other elections in the meantime due to lack of time. 

Speaking to fans on Sunday, Rajini said: “It is time to change the system …  and I want to repay the people of Tamil Nadu for all the good things that I have enjoyed. If I don’t do it now the guilt will haunt me.”

Starting his career as a bus conductor in Bengaluru, then Bangalore, Rajini became a household name after entering the Tamil movie industry. He carved out a niche for himself so much so that he endeared himself to every youth. 

He said he is not entering politics to seek power and went on to explain how the post of the Chief Minister came to him long time ago, in his 40s, but he stayed away from it.

However, after two decades, with Rajini at 67, it remains to be seen if he can wield the same power he once enjoyed with the people of Tamil Nadu as the landscape of voters and their preferences and intelligence has changed since then. His non-Tamil roots will be a talking point for his rivals, but the people of this is a state has not deprived anyone on this count. 

Though his political journey is unclear, one thing is clear – Rajinikanth’s days as superstar is nearing its end. With his on-screen rival Kamal Haasan also floating a party, Tamil cinema could miss two of its legends almost at the same time.