Rajinikanth delays political foray once again; party says decision likely in few days

Film star Rajinikanth on Monday again deferred participation in 2021 Tamil Nadu assembly elections, saying he would soon announce his decision in this regard. His comments came after a two-hour-long closed-door meeting with district secretaries of Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM), a political extension of his fan club.

“They shared their opinions with me. I also shared my outlook with them,” said Rajinikanth outside his Poes Garden residence. “They said that they will stand by whatever decision I take. I will announce my decision as soon as possible,” he added.

On Monday morning, Rajinikanth met about 50 office bearers of the RMM at the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam (Raghavendra Marriage Hall) owned by him. Fans thronged the meeting location and his residence, cheering for him as the next chief minister as Tamil Nadu’s assembly polls are slated for early 2021. Rajinikanth reportedly spoke to about 1.5 hours.

“Most of the office bearers wanted him to contest the 2021 assembly elections but we also wanted him to take care of his health,” said Thoothukudi district secretary AJ Stalin. They discussed all scenarios, including his political entry, virtual campaigns as well as his withdrawal due to the pandemic, he added.

This meeting comes after a letter had leaked in October casting doubt over Rajinikanth’s political plunge due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The star dismissed the letter as fake but admitted that the contents about his health were true. Doctors had advised him not to enter politics due to his co-morbid health condition. It was the first time that his renal transplant, which he underwent in 2016, was acknowledged.

According to RMM office-bearers, Rajinikanth is expected to make an announcement in a few days.

Rajinikanth had first announced his decision of entering politics in December 2017 but he had not taken any concrete steps to build his party. In March 2020, Rajinikanth said that he would head his party but he wanted someone educated person to be the chief ministerial candidate. However, the only certainty that Rajinikanth has maintained in his political plans is that his politics would be spiritual.

On the other hand, Rajinikanth’s contemporary in films and politics, Kamal Haasan, who floated Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Party), contested the 2019 parliamentary elections and is preparing to put up candidates for the 234 assembly seats. Haasan had said that he will not align with any of the Dravidians parties.

“The excitement about Rajinikanth is that he can hold interest on the same question – now or never – and he keeps pushing the destination cleverly,” said Ramu Manivannan, head, politics and public administration department, University of Madras. “The other question is how far can the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tuck him in. They would want him to snap out of dragging his feet. This may be Rajinikanth’s last but one more announcement.”

Rajinikanth’s next film project ‘Annatthe’ is produced by Karunanidhi’s grandnephew Kalanidhi Maran under ‘Sun Pictures’ banner. Rajinikanth will turn 70 in two weeks on December 12. Before Monday’s meeting was scheduled, it was speculated that he may make a firm decision on his birthday or in January during the harvest festival of Pongal.

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