Superstar Rajinikanth said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami "would not even have dreamt" of coming to the top post, and described the AIADMK leader's elevation as "wonder and marvel", drawing a sharp reaction from the ruling party.
The actor, who has announced entering politics and facing the next assembly polls, scheduled in 2021, said "wonder and marvel" could happen "tomorrow also", apparently hinting at his political entry.
The ruling AIADMK hit out at Rajinikanth, saying the chief minister had not come to the post by chance, "but by sheer hard work" of around 45 years.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the only ''marvel'' that will happen in 2021 is the people of Tamil Nadu giving the mandate yet again to AIADMK in the elections scheduled that year.
Mr Jayakumar said the ruling party was being targeted because "they (apparently Rajinikanth) believe it will help in their growth."
"The only marvel that will happen in 2021 is that AIADMK will continue in power," he said.
The next Assembly election in Tamil Nadu is scheduled in 2021.
Using a popular Rajinikanth dialogue in the film ''Sivaji'', Mr Jayakumar said AIADMK was a lion that will take on its rivals single-handedly.
Rajinikanth should not make such comments as an actor but do so only after launching his own political outfit or party, AIADMK spokesperson R M Babu Murugavel said.
At an event to mark the 60 years of his contemporary and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan in the film industry on Sunday, Rajinikanth also said Palaniswami had belied people's predictions that his government would be short-lived.
"Two years ago, Honourable Edappadi (Palaniswami) would not have even dreamt of becoming Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.... marvel and wonder--it happened," he said.
Recalling the initial days of the Palaniswami-led dispensation, Rajinikanth said everybody had predicted it will be a short-lived one.
Among others, DMK chief MK Stalin had initially predicted that the government could fall any time.
"There was no one in Tamil Nadu who did not say the government will last only 20 days, a month or that it will fall in about four to five months..99 per cent of people said that...a wonder happened, a marvel happened...government did not fall, and is continuing overcoming all obstacles," he said.
"A wonder and miracle had happened yesterday, is continuing today and tomorrow also it will happen," he said to loud cheers, apparently over his political journey.
Rajinikanth's remarks come in the wake of Mr Palaniswami recently hitting out at the actor for his comment that there was a leadership vacuum in Tamil Nadu, saying he was just an actor and not a political leader.
Mr Palaniswami was elected chief minister in 2017 in the wake of internal rumblings in the AIADMK following the death of then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in December 2016.
Though initially incumbent deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam helmed the government after Jayalalithaa's death, he fell out of favour with jailed party leader VK Sasikala and rebelled against her, after she was made AIADMK legislature party leader, paving the way for her elevation as CM.
Sasikala was Jayalalithaa's confidante.
However, she was later convicted in a graft case and prior to her being jailed, Mr Palaniswami was elected AIADMK legislature party leader.
Responding to Rajinikanth's comments, the AIADMK said Mr Palaniswami has risen through the party ranks to reach this position and "did not become chief minister by chance."
Party spokesperson Babu Murugavel said according to the Constitution of India, elected MLAs pick their chief minister.
"Party workers have to decide who is CM and who will rule...MGR (party founder late MG Ramachandran) and Amma became Chief Ministers like this. The same party worker also wants him (Palaniswami) to be CM and therefore he is so," he told PTI.
The AIADMK was a people's movement and showed the country that even a simple party worker can reach the pinnacle, he said, adding Mr Palaniswami had worked for the party for nearly 45 years "and has grown steadily to reach this level."
"Rajinkanth has made these remarks as an actor. If he has to say something (on such matters), he has to start his own movement. Time will tell whether that organisation will create a marvel," Mr Murugavel added.