Chennai: Superstar Rajinikanth has decided to skip Narendra Modi’s swearing in as Prime Minister this evening.
He was among the film personalities invited for the lavish ceremony in the Presidential Palace Rashtrapati Bhavan, besides Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Rajinikanth’s decision to give the event a miss comes amid political protests in Tamil Nadu over the invitation to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The 63-year-old actor has, however, said he will be in Hyderabad on a film shoot.
The state’s Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who shares a cordial relationship with Mr Modi, is boycotting the event and is unlikely to send a representative either. She had described the invitation to Mr Rajapaksa “unfortunate” and said it would deeply hurt Tamil sentiments.
During the national election campaign, Mr Modi had met Rajinikanth at his home in Chennai. Both denied that the visit had any political implications though the veteran actor’s huge fan following attracted many political visitors to his home.
The BJP’s own ally MDMK has also protested against Mr Rajapaksa’s participation in Mr Modi’s swearing in. Political parties in Tamil Nadu accuse the Lankan president of presiding over war crimes during the final stages of the war against the Tamil separatist outfit, LTTE.
Some 4,000 guests, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other South Asian leaders, are attending this evening’s oath ceremony.