Ever since superstar Rajinikanth, at a 2017 meeting, announced his political plunge and promised the alternative of ‘spiritual politics’ to the Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu, voters and fans have been eagerly awaiting his formal entry by launching a party.
It’s been almost three years since the announcement, but besides launching the Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM) – an extended fan club – and making a stray statement or two, the actor has shown no signs of a political debut, keeping fans and political analysts guessing on his party’s strategy and future alliances.
Although Rajinikanth had promised that he will launch his political party just ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, recent reports of his poor health may have put paid to those plans.
Recently, Rajnikanth disowned a viral letter that raised doubts over his entry into politics due to his poor health. But he did confirm the contents of the letter to be true, which among other things, revealed that he had a kidney transplant a few years ago.
The actor revealed that he underwent a renal surgery in 2016 and that he has been advised by doctors to stay away from politics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, he recently consulted his surgeons and they warned him against any public participation as he runs a huge health risk due to his morbidities. Since it is a novel virus, his physicians were not sure if his risk levels would come down even after a vaccine is injected.
The superstar, while admitting that he was unwell, did say that he would announce his political plunge at an “appropriate time.”
The actor has been advised by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief Thol Thirumavalavan and Naam Thamizhar Katchi (NTK) leader Seeman to stay away from politics and take care of his health.
While the recent development could indicate an end to the beginning of any possible political career for the actor, Rajinikanth’s political journey so far has been all about ifs and buts and dilly dallying, unlike his colleague and compatriot Kamal Haasan.
Haasan, who launched his political party in February 2018, has not only successfully charted his political career but has also been vocal about issues concerning the state.
After keeping fans guessing for almost 20 years, a resolute Rajinikanth announced his political debut at Chennai’s Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in 2017, soon after the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa created a leadership vacuum in the state.
Stating that politics has deteriorated in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth, now 69, said he will launch a party to contest in all the 234 constituencies in the next Assembly elections and introduce a politics that is free of caste, religion and is clean.
The next year, he launched the Rajini Makal Mandram (RMM), a precursor to his political party and barred religious and caste-based outfits from joining it.
Even though the actor stayed away from the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in March, he left fans and RMM functionaries stupefied when he announced his decision not to contest as the chief ministerial candidate, even though he would lead the soon-to-be-founded party.
Later, it was speculated he may launch his party in April. In September, RMM office-bearers in Madurai kicked up the guessing game again when they put posters comparing Rajinikanth with MGR and calling him ‘spiritual Periyar’.
The outfit’s Madurai Urban district assistant secretary also said that they were “celebrating in anticipation of their leader’s political entry in October or November”.
A few days earlier, four district secretaries of the fan club, in an interaction with The Hindu, had dismissed any plans of the actor launching a party in November.
Political analysts have since the beginning been doubtful about Rajinikanth’s plans to join politics despite his claims that he would make an entry with a party.
Many had dubbed his 2017 announcement as a promotional activity for his then upcoming film Kaala.
“When Rajini made his utterances that he is a `pachai Thamizhan’ (true Tamilian), responding to criticism that he was an outsider to the state, he was very much aware of the soon-to-be-released Pa Ranjith film’s title Kaala Karikaalan, a name steeped in Tamil history,” an industry source had told Economic Times in 2017.
While analysts speculate the actor, given his poor health, may reconsider his decision to enter politics, others say any such decision would put a full stop to all speculations and promises that have been keeping fans hopeful all these years.