I Am Not MGR, but Can Give Pro-Poor Rule like Him: Rajinikanth

In a public address, Rajinikanth explains why he entered politics: to fill a leadership vacuum that former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa left after her demise.

Chennai: Short of announcing his political party, superstar Rajinikanth today invoked the legacy of late AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran and said he was confident of giving a good administration like the yesteryear matinee idol.

“Nobody can match MGR even in 1,000 years and that includes me,” he said referring to criticism, especially from the ruling AIADMK that not all can emulate the late chief minister’s success in politics.

Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, is often referred to as the benchmark of success in Tamil Nadu politics, especially for an actor, with many other cinema professionals trying to emulate him.

The 67-year old superstar, who has a large fan following, said he would take recourse to technology besides assistance from experts and technocrats in delivering governance.

He said he would follow spiritual governance that would have no discrimination based on caste or creed.

In his over 30-minute speech, which gave an insight into his political ideology and the priorities of his yet-to-be launched party, Rajinikanth acknowledged he was “not MGR” and “If someone says he will be (like) MGR, he will only be crazy.”

“But I am confident that I can give a rule like him, that will benefit the poor and the common man,” he said amidst loud cheers from the gathering at the ACS Medical College and Hospital after unveiling a statue of MGR.

The late MGR was worshipped by his followers for heralding pro-people regimes starting 1977, with special focus on the welfare. Unseating the DMK after breaking away from it, MGR had ruled the state for over a decade till his death in December 1987 and was known for his populist measures.

Rajinikanth’s event today comes days after his contemporary Kamal Haasan launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam in Madurai.

Commencing his speech by saying he had not wanted to speak politics at an educational institution, Rajinikanth said he had no option due to demands from the people.

“This gathering gives an impression of a political conference,” he added.

In his first political remarks since December 31 last when he announced he will enter politics and contest all 234 assembly seats whenever elections are held, Rajinikanth said there was a “vacuum for a good leader” in the state politics currently.

This was following the demise of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and ill-health of 93-year old DMK president M Karunanidhi who has become inactive politically of late, he said.

“There is a vacuum for a good leader and a leadership… I am confident I will be able to give good administration and spiritual governance,” he said.

Rajinikanth said the path of politics was filled with “stones and serpents and was not a bed of roses”.

But, he insisted that he had had his brush with it as early as 1996 and recalled his association with Karunanidhi, late leader G.K. Moopanar and the actor’s friend and political commentator late Cho S Ramaswamy then.

During that period, the actor had made outbursts against the then AIADMK regime headed by Jayalalithaa and extended open support to the DMK-TMC combine.

Rajinikanth had then said that “even God cannot save Tamil Nadu” if AIADMK was voted to power again.

The Jayalalithaa-led party was routed in the then assembly elections.

In a veiled reference to the AIADMK’s criticism of his political entry, Rajinikanth said he was being questioned why a cinema star should join politics.

“At the age of 67, I am doing my job as an actor. But you (ruling party) are not doing your job. I have tasted politics as early as in 1996,” he said, adding he was aware of the “wrongdoings” happening in the regime.

Rajinikanth said he did not “expect a red carpet welcome,” from his critics on his political entry but at the same time asked his detractors not to “discourage” him.

He said he wanted to serve people.

Describing MGR as an “epoch”, Rajinikanth said he had expected the state government to involve the cinema industry in the birth centenary celebrations of the late chief minister but it did not happen.

He recalled the political stalwart’s intervention in two key issues of his life, one of them being his marriage.

MGR had not only prevailed upon the family members of Latha to convince them to okay the marriage proposal with him but also solved a property dispute surrounding his wedding hall during its construction here, the superstar disclosed.

He also heaped praises on Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, expressing amazement at their control over their respective parties.

Referring to a Madras high court ruling against banners, he asked his supporters to refrain from such practices in future.

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