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Tug of politics in Rajinikanth 'war' cry

A woman meets Rajinikanth in Chennai on Thursday. (PTI)

Chennai, May 19: Tamil movie superstar Rajinikanth today asked his fans to be ready for "war" and asserted the "system is rotten" and needed change, the comments seen as his biggest hint so far about joining politics.

Speculation over the 67-year-old's possible entry into politics, a recurrent theme in the state, had resumed earlier this week as Rajinikanth held a "meet-and-greet" programme for his fans after eight years.

On the first day of the five-day event, he had said that he had no political aspirations but "If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow."

If he did, he had added, he would show the door to all "money-minded" people.

To Rajinikanth's admirers, the time is just ripe for his political debut. He alone, they believe, can fill the vacuum left by Jayalalithaa's death and the fading of the ailing nonagenarian, M. Karunanidhi.

The BJP, which has good relations with the superstar, recently said its doors were open for him.

Rajinikanth told his fans today, the last day of his outreach, that in ancient times, the kings did not necessarily maintain large standing armies but when the situation demanded, all their male subjects turned up to serve their homeland.

"When a war came, they came to the rescue of their motherland. I have a profession, work, duties... and so do you. Go to your places, do your duty, take care of your vocation. Let us face the war when it comes," he said, drawing cheers.

The actor rued that despite the presence of "efficient" politicians like M.K. Stalin (DMK) and Anbumani Ramadoss (PMK), the "system is affected". He said the people's "thought processes" on politics and democracy had to be changed.

"The system is rotten. We should change the system," Rajinikanth said. "Yes, there are people (like) M.K. Stalin, who is a very efficient administrator. Cho (S. Ramasamy) Sir used to often say that Stalin would perform very well if he were given a free hand. Anbumani Ramadoss is a very educated, knowledgeable, modern thinker and has good plans."

He praised Thol Thirumavalavan for taking up Dalit causes and also lauded Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman. "They are all there, but the system is affected, isn't it?" the actor asked.

Rajinikanth, often tagged an "outsider" because of his Maharashtrian origins and his early years in Karnataka, took care to address the matter.

"Even though I'm from Karnataka, you have accepted me and made me into a Tamil. I'm a pure Tamil now," he said.

He said his native place was a village in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu. " Naan pachai Tamizhan (I'm a pure Tamil).... If you ask me to get out and throw me away, I shall land up in the Himalayas (which he frequents) and not in any other state," he said.

Questions had often been raised whether "Rajinikanth is a Tamil", he added. "I'm 67 years old. For 23 years I was in Karnataka and 44 in Tamil Nadu. I grew up with you. I may have come here as a Kannadiga or as a Marathi from Karnataka but you gave me love, support, name, fame and prosperity and you have made me a Tamil."

Former chief minister O. Panneerselvam, who heads the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma), played down Rajinikanth's comments.

"The AIADMK is a huge banyan tree. It will not be affected by his entry into politics. We welcome him," he said.

His party colleague K.P. Munuswamy said: "The people have accepted OPS as their leader. If he (Rajinikanth) comes, he will learn how many questions politicians have to answer. Passing comments is easy."

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