CHENNAI: Dropping what is perhaps his biggest hint so far on joining politics, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth today asked his supporters to be ready for war when it comes, asserting the "system is rotten" and that it needs to be changed.
The 67-year-old Rajinikanth, who has a demi-god status among millions of his fans, addressed his supporters in a no less than a vote appeal on the concluding day of his fiveday-long meet and greet campaign.
The renewed frenzy over whether the star will join politics began earlier this week when he said on the first day of his meeting with fans, held after eight years, that he has no political aspirations, but "If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow." Rajinikanth repeated his thought saying he had no desire to join politics, but if he did, he would show the door to all "money-minded" people.
Will he or won't he is the million dollar question in the minds of his fans in Tamil Nadu who believe that Thalaiva, as Rajinikanth is popularly known, is the only one who can effectively fill the political vacuum with stalwarts like late Jayalalithaa and ailing nonagenarian DMK supremo M Karunanidhi out of the picture in the current political scenario in the state.
The BJP has been trying to rope in the superstar for its entry into the turbulent Tamil Nadu politics. Recently, BJP national secretary H Raja said Rajinikanth is a "popular" personality and is welcome to join the saffron party.
Addressing his fans, the 'Kabali' star said in olden days the kings did not maintain a massive standing army, but when the situation warranted, all the men in the country would turn up for their motherland.
Many of them would be engaged in their daily duties and vocations, besides engaging in sports to keep themselves fit, but when the call of duty came, they would be there, he said.
"When a war comes they will come to the rescue of their motherland. I have a profession, work, duty 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 roared amidst a thundering applause from fans.
The actor rued that despite the presence of 'efficient' politicians like M K Stalin and Anbumani Ramadoss, the "system is affected" and that the people's "thought process" on politics and democracy has to be changed.
"The system is rotten. We should change the system."
While the system was "affected," people's thought process on policy and democracy had changed and this needs to be addressed by one and all, he 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 will perform very well if he is given a free hand."
"Anbumani Ramadoss is a very educated, knowledgeable modern thinker and has good plans," he said.
-Not an outsider-
Shooting down the outsider tag, Rajinikanth, a man of Marathi roots and a native of Karnataka, proclaimed himself to be a true-blue Tamilian despite his origins from Karnataka.
"Even though I am from Karnataka, still you have accepted me and you have made me into a Tamil. I am a pure Tamil now."
On the issue of many of his critics pointing out his 'non-Tamil' origin, Rajinikanth said his native place was a village in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.
"Naan pachai Tamizhan (I am a pure Tamil)....if you ask me to get out and throw me away, I will land only in the Himalayas (which he frequents) and not in any other state," he said.
Questions were often raised "if Rajinikanth is a Tamil," he added.
"I am 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 Marathi from Karnataka but you gave me love, support, name, fame and prosperity and you have made me a Tamil," he said amidst loud cheers from his fans.
The actor's roots are often a focal point of discussion in various circles and they come to the fore when the Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu peaks.
He praised Thol.Thirumavalavan for taking up the Dalit cause and also lauded Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman.
"They all are there.. but the system is affected, no?" he asked.
Noting that his statements and remarks created a 'controversy,' Rajinikanth said he had not expected his recent comments on politics to become such a hot topic of discussion.
Referring to the opposition to him from some quarters, especially in the social media, he said one cannot grow without opposition.
"Especially in politics, opposition is the investment.
Some in social media, Twitter and Facebook criticise me. I don't feel bad about it. It is like fertilizer for a plant," he added.