It's time for a political revolution, Rajinikanth says and steps inside the ring
A pat on his pate, a stroke on his beard and the crowd in front of the dias that just could not control its excitement. Because for them the world as they knew would change: Rajinikanth would enter politics.
The Thalaivar had already hinted at a move before the year ran out. Sunday morning he ended speculations. "It's time for a political revolution," the superstar said at Chennai's Sri Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam and stepped into politics.
Rajinikanth indicated he would float a new party and asked his fans to prepare for the next Assembly elections. That will be due in 2021, if the current AIADMK government can stick to its power for its full course.
Significantly, Rajinikanth asked his fans -- who thronged the venue in large numbers, as expected -- to desist from criticising other parties. He also said his new venture would be a spiritual one too.
"My politics will be based on spirituality, not on religion or caste," Rajini said and stressed that "the whole thing (sic) has to change. The system has to change. Democracy has been corrupted. It needs to be cleansed."
According to him, "from the days of kings and rulers looting other countries and kingdoms, we have come to a level where rulers are looting their own country."
As expected, his decision was greeted with wild cheers from his countless fans:
The enthusiasm also spilled onto the virtual world. Microblogging site Twitter was flooded with posts congratulating Rajini and commenting on his move. So much so that at one point five of the 10 top Twitter trends in India were associated with the announcement.
FIlmmaker Kamal Haasan, Rajini's long-time colleague and his rival in garnering popularity, tweeted:
"Congratulations to Rajini's social sentiment and political arrival. Welcome Welcome".
சகோதரர் ரஜினியின் சமூக உணர்வுக்கும் அரசியல் வருகைக்கும் வாழ்த்துக்கள். வருக வருக— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) December 31, 2017
Welcome to #Politics Thalaivaaa !!!!#Thalaivar @Superstarrajini Says "If we are elected & we failed to fulfill our promises, then we will resign within 3 Years" !!!!#Rajinikanthpoliticalentry#RajniNewYearPartypic.twitter.com/3ZhY9bCEDX— Vijay Sethupathi (@ActorSethupathy) December 31, 2017
If there were bouquets, there was the odd brickbat too. The Bharatiya Janata Party's Subhramanian Swamy was not impressed:
He only announced he is entering politics, had no details or documents, he is illiterate. Its only media hype, people of Tamil Nadu are intelligent: Subramanian Swamy, BJP on #Rajinikanth pic.twitter.com/4dDZWLGxdd— ANI (@ANI) December 31, 2017
Soon after Rajinikanth's announcement though speculation started whether he would join the BJP. That the actor will not be averse to the idea is a perception that has been around for long, especially since his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But a large section of his fans made a visible effort to pay put to any such idea.
Whether or not he allies with any party, Rajini's decision holds the promise to interesting developments.
Tamil Nadu has seen a political vaccum since the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Her AIADMK has been faction-ridden since her death. The extent of infighting was visible just a week ago when break-away leader TPV Dinakaran trounced his rival from the ruling OPS-EPS combine in the prestigious bi-election to the RK Nagar assembly seat that was vacant since Jaya's death.
The bi-pole results announced last Sunday religated the DMK to a distant third place. The Dravidian party has been fighting a perception of corruption for quite some time now. The fact that party patriarch, former CM M Karunanidhi hasnt been active recently hasnt helped matters though his younger son MK Stalin looks poised to take over.