Tamil Nadu and cult leaders go hand in hand. It is nothing unusual for people to step out of the reel world and march into the real, party flags flying high and Dravidian ideologies adopted as their own.
CN Annadurai, MG Ramachandran, Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa, all emerged from the silver screen to rule state politics. After the demise of Tamil Nadu's Puratchi Thalaivi Amma, the state lacks efficient administration. The people feel that the government is lost in the battle for Amma's legacy and the twin leaves (AIADMK party symbol).
A Maharashtrian who grew up in Karnataka, Rajini now identifies as a Tamilian. Photo: India Today
After Jaya's death, the AIADMK has been in disarray, with ministers, MPs and MLAs caught between two camps. On one side, TTV Dhinakaran and Sasikala beckon them, and on the other are O Paneerselvam and Edappadi K Palanisami.
Forgotten between them all stand the people of Tamil Nadu. To further shake up this muddle has come a claim from another one of the state's reel gods, superstar Rajinikanth.
Thalaiva has finally spoken out about his much speculated political plunge. "I am not new to politics, I have always been around. But if one goes to battle, one should emerge victorious. I will talk about my political stand on December 31," the star said on Wednesday. This is not the first time that Rajinikanth has thrown us this bait. Earlier this year, during his last fan meet in May, Thalaiva had spoken about his displeasure with the rot in the system, and said, "If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow".
So, will we see a Neta Rajini soon? In 1996, Rajinikanth had made her stand against Jayalalithaa evident. "Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa is voted back into power", he had said. That was the year he openly supported the DMK, but through the course of time, that aligning fell through.
Rajinikanth has an open invitation from the Bharatiya Janata Party too, to join them if he ever steps into the playing field.
However, the question many are asking is whether Rajini will be able to fit this new role.
The star has been testing the political waters for over 20 years now. A Maharashtrian who grew up in Karnataka, Rajini later migrated to Tamil Nadu. But now he identifies as a Tamilian, and even told his fans that he was nothing but 'pachai tamizh'. Having the love and trust of supporters is one thing, but politics requires other skills too. If Rajini enters the political fray, he will have to deal with issues such as the Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Another challenge will be the new MLA TTV Dhinakaran, who has risen from the ashes to claim Jayalalithaa's legacy.
The superstar has not spelt out his stand on thorny issues, or his ideology. People are now eagerly awaiting December 31, for the next development in the story of Rajini's tryst with politics.
Also read: Why Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan are keeping Tamil Nadu on its toes about joining politics