CHENNAI, Dec 4: Ending years of suspense, superstar Rajinikanth on Thursday said his long awaited party would be launched in January 2021 asserting a political change was imperative in Tamil Nadu and vowed a corruption free good governance driven by spiritual politics cutting across caste and religion.
A multi-pronged contest for the Assembly polls due next year, during April-May, appears likely, and the star's entry, with his brand of spiritual politics and a war cry like slogan "Mathuvom," is sure to spice up the political arena.
Whether the 70-year old actor's charisma would translate into votes or not remains to be seen, his entry is expected to redefine Tamil Nadu's political matrix dominated by Dravidian politics for decades.
The announcement, coming barely four months ahead of the elections has ended speculation about his political entry especially after his recent disclosure on having undergone a kidney transplant in 2016 and doctors' advice against venturing into politics.
For the actor's supporters it came as a morale booster who burst crackers and distributed sweets in joy while Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam welcomed the actor's political innings.
Anything may happen in politics, he said adding, "if there is an opportunity, there will be an alliance with him."
The BJP, the saffron party MP Subramanian Swamy and noted RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy were among others who welcomed the actor's move.
The DMK had days ago said anyone in a democracy can float a political party.
According to the actor, spiritual politics was all about honesty, transparency and graft free politics transcending the barriers of caste and religion to provide good governance.
His slogan is "Mathuvom. Ellathayum Mathuvom. Ippo Illainna Eppovam Illai" which could be roughly translated as "Let us change everything. If change does not happen now, it will never materialise," reminding one of his many famous film 'punch' dialogues.
The top star, promising his brand of spiritual politics, dramatically asserted that he was even ready to risk his life for the sake of people's welfare by entering politics.
He made it clear that his party would fight Assembly elections in 2021 and "emerge victorious," which he dubbed a "wonder", with people's support.
An announcement on matters connected to the party launch would be made on December 31, he tweeted.
Later speaking to reporters at his Poes Garden residence, he explained why he had to defer for long an announcement on if and when he would launch a party despite his 2017 assurance of political entry.
Although he had, early this year rooted for an upsurge among people as a precursor to take the political plunge, he could not embark on a statewide tour to facilitate a change, in view of the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
Since he had undergone a kidney transplant, doctors advised him against venturing into politics as it involved active campaigning, which was not safe during the times of virus spread, he said.
To enter politics, reaching out to the people was however, very essential and when the COVID-19 limiting factor was juxtaposed with the people's love, it was his adoration for the public, who gave him all that he had today mattered.
Considering people's love for him, he said even if his political entry endangered and 'snuffed out' his very life, he would only be happy as his political journey was intended for the welfare of the people, he claimed.
"No one will be more happy than me even if I happen to lose my life for people's sake. I never fail to keep my word." Asserting that he was only a catalyst for change, the actor said victory or defeat at the hustings, both go to the people.
The top star, who is now certain to start his political innings was taken seriously for his "appeal" among the people for the first time in 1996.
His famous one liner, "If the AIADMK government is voted back to power, even God cannot save Tamil Nadu," against the then AIADMK government led by late J Jayalalithaa, struck a chord with people.
Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, christened 'Rajinikanth' by his guru, ace director the late K Balachandar in his 1975 debut movie 'Apoorva Ragangal' soon evolved into a mega Tamil hero after essaying several negative roles.
His unique attributes like style and charisma helped him grow and heroism came to him with ease while his racy one liners known as 'punch dialogues' in the Tamil speaking world made him larger than life which became truly evident with his 1995 blockbuster 'Basha.'
After his 2017 assertion of political entry, though the actor kept up the momentum by virtually challenging the Dravidian politics with his spiritual politics, he also impressed his followers by invoking the legacy of late AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran, often seen as the trendsetter vis- a-vis successful cinema to politics transition.
However, he appeared to falter soon.
The actor's remark that he never aspired to be the Chief Minister and instead wanted to appoint a capable youth to the post and his talk of a resurgence as a condition for entering politics disappointed his supporters and also led to a speculation about his commitment to take the political plunge.
By making a categorical announcement today, he is now expected to pick up the threads and move forward, strengthen the fledgling Rajini Makkal Mandram to facilitate party launch and decide on whether or not to strike poll deals.
Previously the BJP and now the AIADMK have shown interest in joining forces with him.
Both Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, who heads the Makkal Needhi Maiam had indicated in the past that they were not averse to the idea of working together for the people's good.
To help him, the actor has appointed R Arjunamurthy, who was heading the Tamil Nadu BJP's intellectual wing and former Congress leader Tamizharuvi Manian as chief coordinator and 'supervisor' respectively. - PTI