Rajinikanth, better known as thalaiva (leader) to millions of fans, is an enigma that can’t be decoded. Although he might lack the features of Greek Gods, his commanding screen presence: loud mannerisms, flamboyant swagger, punch-filled dialogues…have turned him into a superstar.
The actor began showing signs of political aspirations in 2017 when he urged fans to ‘prepare themselves for the war’ against a ‘rotten system’ in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.
Tamil Nadu has always shared an emotional bond with celluloid, with several celebrities leaving their mark in politics, be it MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa. In fact, till Jayalalithaa’s death in 2017, Tamil Nadu was ruled by several film personalities. Of the Tamil Nadu chief ministers since 1952, four were from the world of movies – Annadurai, Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa.
Rajinikanth’s tentative step towards the political arena occurred after the death of Jayalalithaa. With Jayalalithaa’s death and DMK chief Karunanidhi’s failing health, there was a glaring vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics.
The actor, who had supported the DMK and Congress, announced his intention to vote for BJP publicly in 2004, although he did not campaign for it. During Modi’s Prime Ministerial candidature in 2014, Rajinikanth’s residence was his first pit stop in Tamil Nadu.
In 2019, he did not stand for the Lok Sabha polls. However, his contemporary Kamal Hassan launched his party Makkal Nidhi Maiyyam. While Rajinikanth did not announce a party, he did reveal that he will work for the people of Tamil Nadu and launched ‘rajamandram.org’ and a party logo last year. In a video message on the website, Rajinikanth appealed to his fans to register on the website to help him develop the state. On December 31, 2017, he announced his entry into politics and confirmed his intention to contest the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in 2021.
On November 30,2020, Rajinikanth met the office bearers of his Rajini Makkal Mandaram (RMM).
After the meeting, Rajinikanth urged his members to continue their efforts to strengthen the party and announced that he would state his final decision on taking the political plunge soon. Although the party wanted Rajinikanth as the CM candidate of the party, the actor had hinted otherwise earlier.
In fact, in October 2020, the actor responding to a leaked statement confirmed that doctors had advised him against meeting people and campaigning during the Covid-19 pandemic as he had undergone a kidney transplant in 2016.
Assembly elections are due in Tamil Nadu in April-May 2021. Rajinikanth, in a previous interaction with the media, had expressed his willingness to join hands with Kamal Haasan politically. He added that matters relating to the alliance and who will be the chief minister in such a case would be decided during the polls.
Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in an economically challenged Maratha family in Bengaluru, Rajinikanth has worked as a coolie and bus conductor while acting in Kannada plays. After joining an acting course, he entered the Kollywood film industry with K Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal. Said to be the first Indian to enter the 100 Crore Club after earning Rs 26 crore for his role Sivaji, he is known to be a box-office gale force.