Following stiff opposition from Tamil outfits, megastar Rajinikanth on Saturday announced he has cancelled his visit to Sri Lanka next month to inaugurate a housing scheme.
Lyca Productions had announced that the “Enthiran” actor will hand over the keys to 150 homes built for Tamils by Gnanam Foundation on April 9 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
As part of his visit, organised by Lyca Productions, Rajinikanth was expected to speak at a public meeting and plant tree saplings.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the 66-year-old actor said he accepted the invitation because he wanted to see the places where the Tamils lived and died for their cause in the island nation.
“I wanted to meet Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, to discuss and find a solution for attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen,” he said.
Explaining the reason behind his earlier decision to take part in the programme, Rajinikanth said it was his long-time desire to “salute that brave soil.”
“There was a long-time desire in me to set foot on that brave soil where lakhs of (Tamil) people gave their lives for the cause of their race. After fulfilling that, I was also eagerly waiting to meet the people and have an open talk with them,” he said.
Rajinikanth said he took the decision after founders of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Vaiko and Thol Thirumavalavan respectively, and Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) leader T Velmurugan asked him to consider withdrawing from the programme.
Apparently pained at the opposition to his Lanka visit, the actor said he was “not a politician, but an artiste” whose duty was to entertain people.
He said if there were any future visits by him to the neighbouring country, it should not be politicised.
“If I get the privilege of witnessing that divine soil in the future by visiting there and entertaining the people, kindly do not politicise that visit,” he said.
Rajinikanth said he should not be stopped during such future visits, adding, he was “making the plea humbly and it was his right.”
The actor further said he was scheduled to hand over the keys of houses to beneficiaries along with British MP James Berry, chief minister of the Northern Province, CV Vigneswaran and others on April 9.