1996 To 2020: Timeline Of Rajinikanth’s Political Interventions & How It Impacted TN Polls

Disputing popular accounts from several leaders in Tamil Nadu, veteran actor Rajinikanth addressed the media on December 3, 2020, where he decisively claimed that he would enter politics and the finer points of his party’s hierarchy will be charted out by January 1, 2021. Admittedly, the news sent shockwaves across the country as regional parties scrambled in frenzy to garner his support ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due in April 2021. 

However, not too long after the initial announcement, a series of events seemed to strike a chord in the actor who after being admitted to a Hyderabad hospital for high BP while on the sets of ‘Annaatthe’ decided that it was a warning call from God to change his course of action. Citing ‘supreme intervention’ Rajinikanth abruptly called it quits and ended further rumours on his supposed political entry in the future. In his letter of apology to his well-wishers and party workers which the actor shared on his social media handle, he explained the reasons for the sudden change of mind. 

While the actor has put an end to nearly 3 decades of speculation, parties are still hopeful that his presence and his vocal support could turn the tides a little in their favour. Here’s a list of some of the most critical times in recent political past that Rajinikanth has either actively or passively extended his support and how that may have altered voting patterns.

Timeline of Rajinikanth’s most notable political activism

1996: Congress aligned with AIADMK sparking an internal row within the Jayalalithaa’s camp. Ardent followers split from the party and started a splintered regional faction in the state — Tamil Manila Congress(TMC), which pledged allegiance to Karunanidhi’s DMK. This election was particularly interesting because it was perhaps the first documented time in Rajini’s career the actor had made a public call for support for any party. The actor had reportedly opined that if Jayalalithaa were to be voted back to power, ‘even God cannot save Tamil Nadu.’ 

The actor’s political rally call was so fierce that it resonated feely with Tamil sentiments and a large faction of his fans. Due to which the DMK-TMC alliance swept the polls. The actor’s statement on Jayalalithaa the incumbent CM then was largely perceived to have contributed to the deafening defeat of AIADMK.

2004: Defying his 1996 stance, the actor once again pledged his vote for 2004 elections, but this time it was for BJP-AIADMK alliance. Notably, his opinion and staunch criticism of Jayalalithaa had not changed but the actor defended his stand by stating that he believed in NDA’s interlinking river call. He claimed that the alliance was forged under the assurance that the parties would strive for interlinking of all rivers in the country to solve drinking water crisis across the nation. 

2008: in responding to a fan’s question on his foray into politics at a meet and greet, Rajinikanth had notably stated that it was all a ‘matter of time and circumstances, if the timing is not right, nothing can help.’

2014: Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabah polls, PM Modi called on the actor at his residence in Chennai; while both Rajinikanth and PM Modi denied that there were any political inclinations it was understood that both held each other in great regard. PM noted that Rajinikanth was a ‘good friend and a well-wisher’.

2017: On Dec 31, Rajinikanth addressed his fans at his Raghavendra Hall in Chennai where he opined, ‘I’ve planned everything out, I only have to pull the arrow now. My entry into politics is certain, I’m just waiting for the war to come to me,’ he said. Even as the fiery speech continued to entertain his fans he failed to set a timeline for it. 

2018: In March, in a private ceremony at a college in Tamil Nadu where the actor was invited as a chief guest to unveil MGR’s statue, Rajinikanth claimed that there is no one like MGR but he knows how to serve the people like him and that he will bring a ‘golden era’ in Tamil Nadu and politics with his governance when the time is right. In October again that year he said 90% of the work to ensure his party is operational in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2021 was completed. As time waned the actor too continued to make promising statements until Dec 25 where he abjectly put an end to all speculations.

Rajinikanth’s tryst with politics

Since Rajinikanth’s big ‘political plunge’ reveal in 2017, the BJP has been relentless in its efforts to woo the veteran actor to join the party. In 2014, following AIADMK’s general secretary Jayalalithaa’s conviction in the disproportionate assets case and her subsequent return to Chennai after 21 days of jail, Rajinikanth noted that he was ‘very glad’ to see her back home in Poes Garden. BJP leaders have time and again tried to recall the actor’s support to the DMK-TMC alliance in 1996 and quipped that a repeat of simile backing to BJP would serve as a huge boost for the party in Tamil Nadu. While the actor has not shied away from praising PM Modi he has thus far refrained from publicly supporting BJP anywhere.

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