Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Friday said he was ready to contest elections whenever required, fuelling speculation that he will take the plunge depending on the results of the 18 assembly bypolls held on Thursday.
“Whenever it comes, I will be ready," the 69-year-old Rajinikanth said when asked whether he would contest elections if the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government loses its majority.
The actor stayed away from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, voting for which was held across Tamil Nadu on Thursday. However, there has been speculation about his future in politics.
Bypolls were held to 18 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, along with elections to 38 Lok Sabha seats. The results of the assembly seats could determine the future of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, which has seen growing dissent and split into two after the death of its leader, former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa.
The Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led AIADMK enjoys a slender majority in the 235-seat assembly.
The strength of the party was reduced to 113 after the death of R. Kanagaraj, the legislator from Sulur assembly constituency in March.
Its main opposition, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has 88 members in the assembly, while the Congress has eight.
There are two independents and one nominated member, apart from the Speaker.
However, there are 22 vacant seats. Bypolls were held to 18 of these seats and any tide against the AIADMK could weaken the government and possibly see more legislators defect to rival factions.
The DMK and a rival AIADMK faction led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran are banking on discord within the Palaniswami-led government.
The ruling AIADMK faction could also see its share in the Lok Sabha shrink from a high of 37 out of the 39 it won in 2014 as its alliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces a backlash in Tamil Nadu.