Chennai: Tamil superstar Rajinikanth on Monday declared that he will soon fill the leadership vacuum in Tamil Nadu, saying he wished to emulate the governance once provided by MGR—as late chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder M.G. Ramachandran was known. “Tamil Nadu needs a leader and I will soon fill that place," said Rajinikanth after unveiling a statue of MGR at a function in Chennai.

Addressing students of Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, the actor added: “Focus on your education, understand politics, but don’t involve yourselves in politics during student days."

This was the veteran star’s first public appearance after announcing his entry into politics on 31 December.

With the entry of Rajinikanth and fellow actor Kamal Haasan, the political battle in the state has intensified.

“Many say that no one can match MGR. Yes, no one can become MGR. But I can provide the good governance of MGR," Rajinikanth told the crowd.

In a politically astute speech, the actor also praised opposition leader and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi, saying, “In politics, MGR’s opponent was Karunanidhi. There is no leader like Karunanidhi, no greater politician than him."

In December, the 67-year-old actor announced that he will launch a political party that will contest all 234 constituencies in the next Tamil Nadu assembly elections, due in 2021. The actor said his party will function “beyond caste and religion" and engage in “spiritual politics". Since then he has been appointing office-bearers.

Last month, Kamal Haasan, after expressing his intention to join politics over the last one year, launched his own party, the Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Centre), at a public rally in Madurai.

Rajinikanth has highly anticipated films 2.0 and Kaala lined up for release in 2018.