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Chennai: Less than a month after he confirmed his political plunge, Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth on Tuesday cited his health condition and the COVID-19 threat to withdraw his decision. Stating that only he realises the pain of this move, he apologised to his fans for disappointing them. He would have announced on December 31, the date of his party’s launch.

On Sunday while being discharged from a hospital in Hyderabad, where he was admitted on Christmas for severe fluctuations in blood pressure, doctors had counselled him to avoid any activity that increases the risk of contracting COVID-19.

The charismatic actor, who perhaps may make it to any ‘book of guessing records’ for oscillating on his political entry for three decades, tweeted a three-page statement explaining his decision.

‘‘The reason for this decision is my health condition. If I enter politics, I would have to meet thousands or even lakhs of people while campaigning. But even in a closed environment, while shooting [for Annaththe] with 120 people, several contracted COVID-19 and I had to be in hospital for three days. I am on immunosuppressant medication. Even if a COVID vaccine is available, if health issues arise during electioneering, those travelling with me in this political journey would be put to untold miseries. I am not inclined to make such people scapegoats,” Rajinikanth said. He acknowledged that his decision would attract criticism as he was backing out on a promise to enter electoral politics. Therefore, he apologised to fans and others who expected him to take the plunge. “Only I can realise the pain I am suffering for taking this decision,” he said.

However, he said he would render whatever public service is possible. The actor added that he had never shied away from speaking the truth.

While his withdrawal upset his fans, some of whom said they were jolted, it brought cheer to the ruling AIADMK and the DMK, which were privately apprehensive of having to face the popular actor, whose political reach remains untested to this day.

Though the Dravidian majors never considered Rajinikanth as a potent third force who would be catapulted to power overnight, they feared that he would end up as a major spoiler determining the difference between the victor and the loser in a close contest.

Now 2021 for all practical purposes would be a contest between the DMK and the AIADMK, while Kamal Haasan, a co-traveller of Rajinikanth in Kollywood, would seek to project himself as an alternative. The BJP would most likely stick to the AIADMK and piggy ride on its back. The smaller parties are also relieved as they would not lose cadres to Rajinikanth.

Expectedly, most political party leaders welcomed his decision and wished the actor good health.

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Free Press Journal