Shivaji Rao Gaekwad (born December 12, 1950), known professionally as Rajinikanth, is an Indian actor who works primarily in Tamil cinema. In addition to acting, he has also worked as a producer and screenwriter. He has won many awards, including four Tamil Nadu State Film Best Actor Awards and a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award. The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan.

Rajinikanth is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most popular actors in Indian cinema history. His popularity has been attributed to his uniquely styled dialogues and idiosyncrasies in films and his political statements and philanthropy. 

Rajinikanth has been teasing the people of Tamil Nadu about his political entry for over 20 years. But ended the speculation on the last day of 2017 when he announced entry into politics on December 31, 2017, and confirmed his intention to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in all 234 constituencies. He stated that his party would resign if it could not fulfil its electoral promises within three years of coming into power. 

During a press conference, Rajinikanth outlined three “novel ideas” – limited number of party posts to curb corruption, bringing youngsters and clean people to politics and place them in pole positions in the corridor of power and him not being the Chief Minister – and asked his fans to take his message to the nook and corner of the state.

The clamour around Tamil superstar Rajinikanth to take the political plunge has been growing within the Rajini Makkal Mandram, a forum founded by the actor to facilitate his political entry.

To force the actor to take the formal plunge into politics, the Rajini Makkal Mandram workers in Vellore have put up posters that read, ‘Opportunity is now or never’.

In March, Rajinikanth had given a clarion call for a rebellion against the political arena. He had then said that “closer to the assembly elections, there will come a Tsunami”. 

His fans have rallied together for the Rajini Makkal Mandram. They have been doing a bit of groundwork, but all this without any specific details of Rajini’s political ideology or his political road map.

Posters have come out in Vellore district for the much-awaited Assembly Election, to be held after 7 to 8 months in Tamil Nadu, urging actor Rajinikanth to enter active politics.

Some slogans of Rajinikanth are written in these posters. One poster wrote, ‘The party and government are separate entities to bring about a change in political culture and government – if not now then never!’

Posters were put up by these fans urging Rajini to enter politics officially. Still, there was immediately an order to remove these posters leading to questions on whether Rajini has changed his mind and won’t contest the 2021 elections.

In March 2020, he held a press meet to announce that he would nominate a suitable candidate for the Chief Minister’s post while restricting himself to piloting the political party. But Covid-19 derailed his carefully laid out plans.

After a Tamil website published the statement – a draft that is believed to have been circulated amongst the actor’s inner circle – on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu’s political circles were abuzz that Rajinikanth’s political entry might not happen ahead of the May 2021 Assembly elections. What has deterred the 70-year-old actor is his frail health – after he reportedly underwent a kidney transplant at the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA in 2016. His doctors have cautioned that even a corona vaccine may not guarantee him the required immunity considering he was already on immunosuppressant.

According to Rajinikanth’s draft statement, which has been quoted by Outlook India, read: “Since that was not possible, the alternative now would be to carry out my political campaign only through television, internet, and social media. But I doubt if there would be a popular uprising and support among the public for such an approach. And if I choose to launch the party the traditional way – through public meetings – and my health got affected midway it could disrupt all the plans. Also, my main concern is about the health of the people who would be attending such rallies.” 

The draft statement reportedly also adds that Rajinikanth will think again of his entry into politics in December. His close advisors have allegedly leaked the information before making it public. Meanwhile, the Petta star has kept silent on the same. 

But then came the novel coronavirus. After the coronavirus outbreak, all his political activities have slowed down, and Rajinikanth has confined himself to his residence.

Sources have told India Today TV that he has interacted much with the Rajini Makkal Mandram office bearers.

On Thursday, October 29, 2020, Rajinikanth hinted at a rethink on joining electoral politics and said he would announce his stand at an “appropriate time” amid speculation triggered by a letter that many believed was written by him and leaked. “The letter is not mine, but the information on my health and doctors’ advice is true,” Rajinikanth said in a statement. 

This move is expected to electrify the political atmosphere in Tamil Nadu, where voters will elect their 234 lawmakers, most likely in April.

Rajinikanth will announce his decision by the end of this month through a video message on his Twitter handle.

He will devote the entire month of October to mobilize support in all the districts for which his confidants are carrying out meticulous preparations.

But for the lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, Rajinikanth would have already held district-level conferences by now.

Not willing to waste any more time, he plans to hold his fan clubs’ virtual meetings every day from Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, onwards.

Simultaneously, lawyers in New Delhi have been told to apply for registration of the political party and seek an election symbol from the Election Commission.

With the lifting of the lockdown, Tamil Nadu is set for some significant political developments.

In all probability Sasikala, the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s confidante, who is being held in a Bengaluru jail for corruption, may be released by the end of September.

Whether her return will lead to a merger of the splinter groups of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or not are all part of political conjecture.

Questions over her nephew TT V Dhinakaran’s party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam merging or fighting along with the ruling AIADMK party or if there will be unity talks are likely to be answered once Sasikala is released.

The DMK is closely monitoring these developments. Its general council meeting, which will be held virtually on Sunday, will deliberate on Rajinikanth’s possible entry into politics and its likely impact.