Will he? Won't he? Those have been the questions foremost in the mind of the hundreds and thousands of fans of one of India's most-loved superstars. Ending years of speculation, actor Rajinikanth, who enjoys an almost demigod status among his followers, one of the very few movie stars in India to do so, announced that he will enter politics and float a party of his own ahead of state elections in Tamil Nadu.
At an interaction with fans at the Raghavendra Marriage Hall in Kodambakkam, Rajinikanth said he would contest the 2021 assembly election and would field candidates in all the 234 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu, reported Times of India.
"I will start a political party before state assembly Elections. Till then, I request fans not to speak about politics, speak ill of any political party. It is time to co-ordinate with every fan club. Every street in Tamil Nadu should have our presence," Rajinikanth said.
Stressing the need for corruption-free politics, the actor, whose real name is Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, said he "didn't want cadres, but saviors".
His fans affectionately call him 'thalaivaa', Tamil for boss, based on the larger-than-life roles he played in his movies for over four decades.
'I am ready for war'
Fans waited eagerly to hear him since early hours of Sunday and when the announcement finally came, they broke into loud cheers. Celebrations broke out in the streets of Tamil Nadu, a state the actor has made his home. He was born to Marathi parents in Bengaluru, in Karnataka state.
"I am not here for money or fame. I have enough of it. The politics here is rotten. Democracy has decayed. In the last year, the political events that took place in the last year has spoilt the name of Tamil Nadu," the actor was quoted by the Hindu newspaper as saying. The actor said he was wary of the media, but he missed Cho Ramaswamy, the editor of Thuglak – a Tamil magazine known for its fearless journalism.
Rajinikanth is often called the Chuck Norris of Indian cinema for his inimitable stunts and on-screen swagger. His legend has spawned numerous memes around the theme of his invincibility.
Actor Kamal Haasan, his contemporary, congratulated him on joining politics.
The death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has created a vacuum in the state politics. It remains to be seen if Rajinikanth's popularity will be enough to compensate for his lack of political experience. Tamil Nadu is known for its movie star politicians — Sivaji Ganesan and MG Ramachandran among the most noteworthy.