Months after opting out of politics citing health worries, superstar Rajinikanth today stressed that he did not plan to change his mind and dissolved his outfit Rajini Makkal Mandram, effectively closing that chapter.
"I have no plans of entering politics in future," said Rajinikanth, 70, after meeting with members of his forum one last time.
The Rajini Makkal Mandram or people's forum, launched in 2018, will be dissolved and will morph into "Rajinikanth Rasigar Narpani Mandram" or the Rajinikanth Fans Welfare Forum. The star known to legions of fans as the "Thalaivar", will be a full-time actor.
The forum was seen as a precursor to the actor's political debut after almost 30 years of "Will he, won't he?" speculation.
Going into the meeting this morning, Rajinikanth had told reporters that several lingering questions on the future of his forum and his political entry would be discussed.
"There is a question of if I am coming to politics or not in the future. I will discuss all these and share with you," he told reporters, appearing to hint at a rethink.
"I could not meet functionaries earlier because of Covid, polls and the shoot and a medical check-up in the US."
The veteran actor, on the verge of launching his political party, announced in December that he would not join politics after all. He cited health concerns ahead of the Tamil Nadu election, held in March-April in the middle of the Covid crisis.
After he was hospitalized briefly for blood pressure fluctuations following a film shoot where crew members were infected with Covid, the actor had said in a statement: "With extreme sadness I say that I can't enter politics. I alone know the pain I went through while announcing this decision. Without entering electoral politics, I will serve the people. This decision of mine will disappoint my fans and people but please forgive me."
As crestfallen fans kept pressing Rajinikanth to rethink that decision, with many putting up posters and staging protests, he appealed to them to stop and "not pain me again and again".
Rajinikanth's political party, many believe, would have impacted the outcome of the Tamil Nadu polls. Even after Rajinikanth dropped his political plans, some in the BJP had favoured reaching out to him for his support.
The AIADMK, which had a tie-up with the BJP, lost the election and the MK Stalin-led DMK took power after a 10-year gap. Another superstar-turned-politician, Kamal Haasan, failed to make an impact, with his party winning zero seats.
Though Rajinikanth remains untested in politics, he arguably inflicted huge damage on the AIADMK in the 1996 polls with just one comment: "If Jayalalithaa is voted back to power, even God cannot save Tamil Nadu." The AIADMK collapsed and the DMK took power.