Ending two decades of suspense, actor Rajinikanth decides to launch a political party

Three years after he first announced that he will launch a political party and fight the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections, actor Rajinikanth announced today that on December 3 he will reveal the date of the launch. “Party will be launched in January. The date will be announced in December,” he tweeted at 12.16 p.m. on December 3, sending the media into a frenzy, surprising political parties in the State and giving his loyal followers a major cause for celebration.

“We will certainly win the upcoming Assembly polls with the support of the people, and [we will] create an honest, transparent, corruption-free, spiritual secular politics without caste, creed or religion. A wonder and miracle will definitely happen,” Rajinikanth, 69, who has completed his latest movie, Annathe, tweeted with hashtags “It’s now or never” and “We will change, we will change everything”.

It was only on October 29 that the actor had made it clear that he would not be able to undertake a whirlwind campaign because of his ill-health and the spread of the Coronavirus. In this communication, he had all but indicated that he had decided against entering politics. Just over a month later, though COVID-19 cases are still being reported in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth has had a change of heart. Later, he told reporters: “I am more than happy to sacrifice even my life for the sake of Tamil people.” This is because, Rajinikanth explained, he was alive today only because of the prayers of the Tamil people when he was in hospital in Singapore.

Rajinikanth had also met office-bearers of the Rajini Makkal Mandram, an offshoot of his fans’ club, on November 30, to seek their opinions, yet again, on his political plunge. “I listened to them, and I also conveyed to them my views,” he later told the media. Even after this meeting, Rajinikanth was evasive of a full-fledged entry into politics.

A few hours after today’s announcement, Rajinikanth met the press and delivered what sounded like a series of cinema dialogues: “If I win it will be the people’s victory, if I lose it will be their defeat”; “I will never ever go back on my words”; “I will come. You will have to create the transformation that is needed”; and “Just as each person has a destiny (thalai ezhuthu), each country has a destiny. The day to change Tamil Nadu’s destiny has come. It will surely happen”. At least three of his post-2016 movies—Kabali (2016), Kaala (2018) and Petta (2019—have been heavy on social issues. Darbar (2020), which did not do as well as expected, had a storyline similar to Rajinikanth’s older movies—good versus evil. So did 2.0 (2018), a masala movie which was the second part of an earlier movie, Enthiran. His next movie is Annathe, which promises to be in the social justice mode. Ironically, it is produced by former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Union Minister Murasoli Maran’s son, Kalanidhi Maran.

O. Panneerselvam, the ruling Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister, welcomed Rajinikanth’s political entry and wished him well. Responding to questions, he said: “If such an opportunity presented itself, there could even be an AIADMK alliance with Rajinikanth’s party.” K. Kanimozhi, the DMK’s deputy leader in Parliament, told presspersons that Rajinikanth’s entry into the fray would not affect the chances of her party in the 2021 Assembly elections.

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