'Not New To Politics, Just Delayed': Rajinikanth Keeps Fans Guessing

Rajinikanth, who has dominated southern films like a colossus for the past four decades and enjoys almost a demigod-like status among his legion of followers, might make public his political entry during his address to fans on the last day.

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Rajinikanth meeting his fans in Chennai today

Chennai: 

Highlights

  1. Superstar Rajinikanth begins a six-day outreach programme today
  2. It is widely expected to end with him revealing his political debut
  3. Rajinikanth today also paid tribute to ex-Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa
Superstar Rajinikanth, addressing fans in Chennai today at the beginning of 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'm there since 1996. I don't say I am entering politics. I will announce my stand on politics on December 31."

He kept the suspense alive by confessing: "I am hesitating about joining politics since I know the difficulties. If we go for a war we ought to win. Valour alone won't do. We need strategy". Pointing to his biceps and then his temple, he added: "Not this (muscle),  but this (strategy)."

Rajinikanth, 67, was addressing a large hall packed with his fans.
"I have been in politics as early as 1996," he remarked in an oblique reference to the comment that is seen to have crushed former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in state polls - "Even God can't save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa returns to power".

The death of Jayalalithaa 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.

Sharing his journey as an actor and the evolution of the "Rajini style" the superstar  recollected how once Ms Jayalalithaa sent him a bouquet with a note saying "Excellent, congratulations."

Earlier this week, Ms 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 closest aide VK Sasikala. Both were shafted by the 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 added fuel to the buzz over Rajinikanth's possible 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 daily 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".

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