Chennai: Superstar Rajinikanth on Friday said he was ready to contest the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu whenever they are held.
Prodded by reporters gathered outside his Poes Garden bungalow for his response to the recent social media explosion of fans pledging their 'next vote' would be only for him, Rajini said, “I can understand their eagerness. Definitely, I will not disappoint them”.
Since the star was not more forthcoming and was merely repeating what he had said a dozen times and more earlier, a reporter tried to pin him down with a speculative question - would he be still prepared if the elections happen just now, since there is talk that snap polls might be forced on the state if the ruling AIADMK fare badly in the by-elections for the 18 Assembly seats held on Thursday (April 18) and for the four seats scheduled on May 19?
"Whenever the Assembly elections are held, we are prepared", Rajini shot back, before winding up the media show and withdrawing into his house.
Perhaps the superstar chose to step out for the TV cameras as he was excited by the buzz created by the hashtag in Tamil which translates to ‘Next vote only for Rajini’ posted by a fan recently. Barring a few sneers, most of the responses on the twitter reflected adulation for him and showed those supporters were pining for his full-fledged launch into politics. It has been a long wait for them after he first announced political entry way back in December 2017, when co-traveller Kamal Haasan was nowhere on the canvas.
There have been suggestive proclamations from the superstar from time to time -critics faulted him saying he made those statements whenever his new movie is getting ready for release and he wanted to garner free publicity for it. Though he had not formed his political party yet, Rajini announced in February that his 'target' was only the state Assembly elections and he would not contest the Lok Sabha elections or the Assembly byelections.
And he also stated he did not support or endorse any party in the (April 18) elections and none should use his pictures or the flag of Rajini Makkal Mandram, seen as the forerunner to his political party, in their poll campaigns.
If someone thought he was closing the door on the BJP - many thought his 'aanmeega arasiyal' (spiritual politics) was in tune with the saffron brigade -sweet words emerged from the superstar on April 9 as he welcomed the BJP's poll manifesto promising a separate authority to link rivers. He had earlier asked the TN voter to support the party that would address the water crisis in the state.
Back to the Poes Garden media interaction on Friday, Rajini had his dose of one-liners in reply to serious political questions. For instance, when asked about the not-so-impressive voter turnout on April 18, he said 70 per cent "is a reasonable turnout" and when pressed further about the dismally low (56.34%) turnout in South Chennai despite its image as the largest concentration of upper-crest educated population, he smiled before shooting out his wisecrack: "I guess many went to hometowns because of the four-day continuous holiday".
Rajinikanth agreed with another reporter that it would have been good if the Election Commission had set up more number of booths but gave good performance certificate to the EC, saying the Commission had conducted the polls well this time, "there is no doubt about that".
And as for the caste violence during the elections, he said, "It's certainly less than what we witnessed before. They (EC) have conducted the polls well this time; there's no doubt about that".
To a question on serious allegations of cash-for-votes this poll time, he said that was for the EC to look into and he had no comment to offer.
To another question on the launch of his political party, Rajinikanth replied, "Let's see. We will decide all that after May 23 (when the results of the present elections are announced)".
Then came the million-dollar answer to a simple political poser: Did he foresee Narendra Modi returning as PM? "We will know that on May 23", replied the Prince Hamlet of Tamil Nadu politics....