Election 2019 is packed with star power with actors such as Urmila Matondkar, Nikhil Gowda, Pawan Kalyan, Shilpa Shinde, and Arshi Khan testing their electoral mettle. But the one star who outshines them all is Prakash Raj.
The South Indian superstar is contesting as an independent from the Bangalore Central constituency where he will face off against BJP’s PC Mohan. The Congress has fielded youth leader Rizwan Arshad from this constituency. Explaining why he chose to contest as an independent in an interview to NDTV, he said, “I think, I believe, I can feel the disillusionment of the people that both the national parties, they have not delivered.”
Prakash Raj has been a vocal critic of right wing extremists and was a close friend of slain braveheart journalist Gauri Lankesh. He had not only questioned PM Modi’s silence on her murder by fundamentalist forces, but also called Modi an ‘actor’. In October 2017, Raj had said, “Look, I am a seasoned actor, can I not see through the acting? Do you (Modi) think I will not be able to detect when you are acting? Give me some respect. Am I stupid? Are people foolish that they cannot see through all this? Are the youth of today blind? The time has come for Modi to understand this.” He added further insult to injury saying, “When we see these people going around acting as if nothing has happened, I feel like giving them the five National Awards I have won for acting.”
Even before he made his political foray, he was asking tough questions on social media. His #JustAsking became quite a Twitter sensation. Today, the actor who has a huge fan following across Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malyalam cinema and has also gathered much appreciation for his power packed performances in the few Hindi movies in which he has acted, is determined to right the wrongs of the previous administration in his constituency.
Praksh Raj launched his campaign in January and then went about meeting his constituents in a bid to draft a people’s manifesto. His vision for his constituency includes improving public transport using environment friendly infrastructural development, improving healthcare and education facilities as well as fostering a culture where pluralism and diversity are celebrated and there is no place for hate crimes and violence.
The article was first published at www.sabrangindia.in