The 63-year-old idol voted in Tamil Nadu’s central Chennai constituency, a high-profile seat where Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is also a voter. DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran is among the candidates in this seat.
The few voters who had gathered at the Stella Maris College polling station at 7 a.m. were pleasantly surprised to see Rajinikanth walking in and quietly stepped out of his way.
“I offered to let him cast his vote first, he went in,” said a proud resident.
Despite keeping his distance from politics, Rajinikanth has been a towering figure in the national election campaign in Tamil Nadu, with several top leaders paying him visits that they insisted were nothing to do with politics.
Last week, Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, called on Rajinikanth before addressing a rally in Chennai, in which he attacked the state’s Jayalalithaa government and set the stage for a bitter war of words.
Though Rajinikanth did not endorse Mr Modi and described it as a “friendly meeting”, the BJP hopes that the encounter will help the party score a blockbuster haul of seats in the south.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP has forged a rainbow coalition with regional parties, including actor Vijayakanth’s DMDK, Vaiko’s MDMK and the PMK.
In 1996, Rajinikanth’s famous statement that “even God can’t save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister again” worked magic for the DMK-TMC coalition he endorsed. The combo swept polls and the AIADMK was routed.
However, in elections held later, his endorsement of the BJP and his stand against the PMK did not have any major impact.
All of Tamil Nadu is voting today in the sixth round of the staggered national election that ends on May 12.