After impressing the audience with his larger than life cinematic characters, Rajnikanth is all set to enter public service after over two decades of speculation and hype surrounding his next move. Rajinikanth on Sunday announced that he will launch a party and would contest from all the 234 seats in the next state assembly elections.
The 66-year-old actor announced: “I will be floating my won party and contest elections in all seats in Tamil Nadu. I did not have political ambitions when I was 45, so will I have it when I’m 68. I am not doing this for any post. But the politics have become so bad that rest of the world is laughing at us.”
The Tamil superstar, who has been holding fan meets in Chennai in the last five days, said: “The last year events in the state politics have shamed people of Tamil Nadu. The government has to be changed, the system has to be changed. I know this is not going to be easy and I can do this only with the trust and support of the people.”
Tamil Nadu has seen several actors take the plunge into active electoral politics. Two stars of Tamil cinema, MGR and Jayalalitha, even went on to serve as chief ministers of the state. Actor Kamal Hassan is also expected to soon take a decision on whether he would launch a party.
Here is a Timeline of Rajinikanth’s brush with politics:
1996: Rajinikanth’s first brushup with politics was in 1996 when he campaigned for the legislative polls. His campaign against the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa helped DMK outst AIADMK. He famously said, “Even God can’t save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister again.”
1998: While his words worked magic for the DMK in 1996, it seemed to have no effect on the public in the 1998 general election as the party, despite Rajinikanth’s backing, could manage just 9 seats out of 39.
2004: After staying away from politics for over six years, the Tamil superstar spoke out against the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). The PMK had created ruckus against his film Baba. However, there was no visible impact the party won 5 seats in the Lok Sabha. The same year, he openly pledged his support for the BJP-AIADMK alliance during the Lok Sabha elections. The alliance won zero seats that year.
2011: Rajinikanth announced his support to the AIADMK in the assembly elections.
2014: Thalaivar’s political stature grew during the general election when the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi met with him at his residence. Rajinikanth said he was a “well-wisher” of Modi and wished him “all the best”, while Modi described the superstar as a “good friend”.
2016: At a prayer meet for Jayalalithaa, Rajinikanth fondly remembered the chief minister saying, “She is like a diamond. All the criticism and suffering polished her. Despite the pressure from a patriarchal society, she shone like one (diamond) and now she rests, like a Kohinoor diamond, besides Puratchi Thalaivar MGR’s memorial.”
2017: Rajinikanth, in a bid to strengthen his political clout, began meeting his fans from across Tamil Nadu. Just ahead of the New Year, the “Thalaivar” launched a fan meet-and-greet before announcing his entry into politics. “I’m not sure whether who is more curious about my political entry, the people or the media. I’m not new to politics. I entered in 1996 itself,” he said. The six-day event saw fans from 20 districts in Tamil Nadu make their way to the grand mandapam.
December 31, 2017: “My entry into politics is definite. It is the need of the times, I will be floating my won party and contest elections in all seats in Tamil Nadu,” announces Rajinikanth.