Dec 26, 2017

Will Announce My Political Decision On Dec 31, Says Rajinikanth In Chennai

Superstar Rajinikanth, addressing fans in Chennai today to begin a six-day outreach that is widely expected to end with him revealing his political debut on New Year's Eve, gave the strongest indication yet of his plans as he said, "I am not new to politics. I got delayed. I don't say I am entering politics. I will announce a decision on December 31."

At the same time, he kept the suspense alive by confessing: "I am hesitant to enter politics since I know the difficulties."

Rajinikanth also paid tribute to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, whose death in December last year is seen to have left a vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics, especially the ruling AIADMK, and left the field wide open for new faces.

"I was humbled when Jayalalithaa met me at my house," said the 67-year-old, whose ties with the former Chief Minister were patchy but cordial towards the end.

"I have been in politics as early as 1996," he remarked, an oblique reference to the famous comment that is seen to have crushed Jayalalithaa in state polls - "Even God can't save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa returns to power."

Earlier this week, Jayalalithaa's party, the ruling AIADMK, failed to retain her RK Nagar seat and lost it to sidelined rebel TTV Dhinakaran, the nephew of Jayalalithaa's long-time aide VK Sasikala. Both were sidelined by AIADMK in a power struggle that started days after Jayalalithaa's death. By snagging Jayalalithaa's constituency, Dhinakaran and Sasikala have scored a big upset for the ruling faction led by Chief Minister E Palaniswami or EPS and his deputy O Panneerselvam or OPS.

The AIADMK turbulence has fueled the buzz over Rajinikanth's anticipated political avatar.

Rajinikanth, who has towered over southern films like a colossus for four decades and enjoys almost demigod status among his legion of followers, has promised an announcement on Sunday. Over the week, he will meet some 1,000 fans across 18 districts. Today's meet began with an address by a film producer who launched Rajinikanth as a hero in his film Bhairavi in 1978.

For months, the superstar whose fans call him "Thalaivar" or "Ultimate Boss", has been cryptic about his plans. His pronouncement in May led to a frenzy - "If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow". But later, he refused to elaborate and said, "Whatever I had to say I said, now I have nothing more to say".

He also told his fans in May, "Let us face the war when it comes".