After his meeting with Governor R N Ravi on Monday, superstar Rajinikanth admitted that they discussed politics, but insisted on keeping the details under wraps. When asked for the specifics of the meeting that lasted about 30 minutes, Rajinikanth responded with an uncharacteristic : “I cannot share all of that with you.”
The meeting with the Governor – who has often crossed swords with the M K Stalin-led DMK government on issues ranging from Dravidian politics to prickly issues such as Hindi ‘imposition’ – set off intense speculation on the actor’s political future, with other political parties jumping in.
While K Balakrishnan, the CPM’s state secretary, condemned the meeting, saying it was part of an attempt to turn Raj Bhawan into a political office, BJP state president K Annamalai defended both the actor and Governor Ravi. As the war of words continues, sources say there could be more to Rajinikanth’s guarded response given how the actor is otherwise known to be soft-spoken and is rarely aggressive.
According to top sources close to the actor, Rajinikanth’s talks had little to do with his return to active politics, but was to work out the contours of a different plan: that of an unofficial ambassador for the Centre in Tamil Nadu, a state that has baffled the BJP as it expands elsewhere in the country.
“His meeting with Governor Ravi has been in the works for a long time, and was planned at least 10 days ago. They talked about politics in general. It had nothing to do with his political entry. However, he may soon be assuming the active role of an ambassador for the central government, not the BJP,” said the source.
The source pointed to how Rajinikanth has changed the images on his social media handles to showcase the Tricolour – this in a state where the BJP’s Har Ghar Tiranga, a campaign to hoist the national flag atop houses ahead of the Independence Day celebrations, has hardly gained any traction. “He could soon be urging people to hoist the national flag at their homes, he could be doing it at his home as well. So you will soon see him taking on the role of an ambassador of sorts, talking about many more national causes,” the source said.
Rumours about Rajinikanth’s entry into politics were triggered by a statement he made during the 1996 elections, when he said, “If Jayalalithaa is re-elected, even God can’t save Tamil Nadu.”
While he kept denying these reports, he aligned himself with the BJP-AIADMK alliance in the state.
In 2017, even as he began organising fan gatherings in Chennai, he denied any political ambition. He finally announced that he would start his political party and set the launch date for January 2021. But weeks ahead of the planned launch, in December 2020, he announced his withdrawal from politics citing health issues.