Rajinikanth cancels political plans after 'warning from God'

In an anti-climax to his much-awaited political plunge, Tamil film star Rajinikanth on Tuesday announced his decision to back out citing his health condition. He even described it as a sign from God to not pursue it further.

In a three-page letter posted on his Twitter handle, Rajinikanth said that, despite severe precautions taken at the shooting of the film Annatthe last week in Hyderabad, four people tested positive for Covid-19.

The actor added that, while he tested negative, his blood pressure fluctuated and that led to his brief hospitalisation in Hyderabad. Doctors then advised him that it will affect his transplanted kidney.

He said the shooting was postponed, resulting in a loss of lakhs of rupees and jobs for many.

"All because of my health condition. I am looking at this as a warning given to me by God," Rajinikanth said.

"If despite strict protocols, four out of 150 could test positive, what will happen when thousands and even lakhs assemble for my campaign?"

The 70-year-old said it is not possible to campaign just via social media after floating a party.

"I have to address public meetings, meet lakhs of people," he said. "Now there is a new virus mutant.

"If I venture out, it could become a big risk for all."

Rajinikanth said he is taking immunosuppressants and so a Covid-19 vaccine may not be effective.

"If my health gets affected, my fellow political passengers might face various problems," he said.

"Hence, with much regret, I am saying that I am not in a position to start a political party and enter politics. Only I know the pain when I announce this."

He also tendered his apology to his fans and others who would be disappointed with his decision.

The bus conductor-turned-actor said he will continue to serve the people.

On Dec 3, Rajinikanth said that he would announce his political plans on Dec 31 and float a party in January 2021 and contest the May Tamil Nadu assembly elections - and before that he would complete his film commitments.

"It is now or never," he said.

He had set up the Rajini Makkal Mandram two years ago with a promise to practise "spiritual politics".

The prospect had triggered much excitement as the elections promised to be lacklustre in the absence of the two giants of Tamil Nadu politics, AIADMK's J. Jayalalithaa and DMK's M. Karunanidhi.

The deaths of both leaders have left a vacuum in the state's politics and it was expected that the entry of Rajinikanth and fellow actor-politician Kamal Haasan would help fill the gap.

Kamal had reiterated his willingness to work with Rajinikanth if their ideologies match.

Rajinikanth said in 2017 that he wanted to enter politics, but then left his fans waiting until this month when he said his party would bring "honest, transparent" politics to Tamil Nadu.

The actor proved his political muscle in 1996 when he called on fans to oppose the Tamil Nadu government, which was then voted out of power.

With Tuesday's announcement, Rajinikanth has downed the curtains on his political plunge.

Indo-Asian News Service, AFP

"If despite strict protocols, four out of 150 could test positive, what will happen when thousands and even lakhs assemble for my campaign?" - Tamil film star Rajinikanth

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