Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth to launch political party

FILE- In this Aug.14, 2010 file photo. Indian movie superstar Rajnikant speaks during audio release of the film Robot in Mumb
FILE- In this Aug.14, 2010 file photo. Indian movie superstar Rajnikant speaks during audio release of the film Robot in Mumbai, India. Rajinikanth said Thursday he plans to launch his own political party in southern India in January, ending years of speculation by millions of his fans on his political future. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth has said he plans to launch his own political party in January, ending years of speculation by millions of fans.

He said in a tweet that he will make an announcement on December 31, apparently in relation to legislative elections in Tamil Nadu state expected around June next year.

Rajinikanth, 69, is one of India’s most popular stars with more than 175 films since 1975, mostly in the Tamil and Telugu languages. He started taking an active part in politics in 2017.

“In the upcoming Assembly elections, the emergence of spiritual politics will happen for sure. A wonder will happen,” he tweeted.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan also tried his hand at politics (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

An announcement connected to the party’s launch will be made on December 31, he said.

His political prospects appear bright following a vacuum created by the deaths of Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned politician with the governing party in the state, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.

Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians.

CN Annadurai and M Karunanidhi were scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers, and MG Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong following.

Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor for three years before joining an acting school. He started in small roles as a villain in Tamil cinema and worked his way up, landing roles in Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also tried his hand at politics as a member of India’s parliament, representing the Congress party in support of his friend, then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, in the 1980s.

He resigned after three years following allegations that he accepted bribes in the purchase of artillery guns. His name was later cleared.

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