Stressing the need to support those who question whenever there is something wrong, popular actor Prakash Raj said that he is touring the state to strengthen the campaign "Just Asking," started by him a few months ago.
Addressing reporters during a 'Meet-the-Press' programme, organised by the Mangaluru Press Club in association with the Dakshina Kannada District Working Journalists' Association and the Patrika Bhavan Trust, at Patrika Bhavan on Wednesday, he said that systematic attempts are made to silence those who raise their voices whenever the authorities concerned are questioned.
Speaking about the campaign 'Just Asking' led by him, Prakash Raj said that the idea for the campaign of the like-minded emerged after the murder of journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh. Generally, those who question the system are isolated. The campaign is to assure every other person that he or she is not alone in the process and there are many voices in support.
He said he has already had several meetings in this regard in different parts of the state and was in Mangaluru for a similar meeting with like-minded people.
Clarifying that he has no plans of getting into electoral politics, the actor said he may be constrained from speaking out the truth, expressing his open views and also questioning the government, if he becomes a part of a political party. He can be freer by staying outside electoral politics. "For me, politics is to be the voice of voiceless," he said.
'Centre intimidating critics'
"It is unfortunate that the ruling government in the Centre is intimidating those who question its moves. As a citizen, I condemn the very attitude. It is very evident that the ruling party BJP and its representatives have been spreading fear among people who question them," said the actor.
"Mysuru â€“ Kodagu MP Pratap Simha and Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde have been using the most derogatory words against the opposers of BJP, which is absurd and condemnable. When elected representatives do this, it sends a wrong message to their supporters," said Prakash Raj, adding that he has filed a defamation suit against Pratap Simha for making disrespectful remarks against him.
"Whenever I questioned the Central government's wrong moves such as imposition of 18% GST on handloom as against 5% on machine loom, BJP leaders spoke on my personal life, which was totally irrelevant. They even went to the extent of mocking my mother saying she was a Christian. It is true that my mother is a Christian and my father belongs to Bunt community. But, what was the intent behind dragging my mother into the issue," he sought to know.
Reacting to allegations on receiving kickbacks in the form of money and sites from the Congress, he said he has no need for kickbacks as he is quite well-off financially. "Let them (BJP leaders) show the site in HSR Layout which is allegedly received by me. Probably they do not know I have adopted a village at Kondareddy Palli in Mahbubnagar, Telangana, and also built a school on a two-acre land," he added.
He further said that his acting career has been flourishing for three decades. He has no intention of gaining easy popularity through politics. Moreover, he has gathered a lot of love and affection from people over the years. But, he has taken a conscious decision these days to work for social causes and is working less in films, comparatively.
"My head bows in shame when someone points out that Dakshina Kannada is communal. Political parties should stop provoking youngsters. One must remember that those who have died in the incidents of vendetta, are human beings first," said Prakash Raj, whose parents hail from Dakshina Kannada.
"My stand on River Cauvery issue is clear. I believe that one has to follow the directions of the Supreme Court and listen to experts before making any remarks. The same is with the case of the river diversion project. The experts' opinion should be taken into consideration," he added.
On coastal infamous incidents...
Prakash Raj called it unfortunate that a student was suspended for expressing his views on Amit Shah soon after Shah visited the coastal district. "Every person has the right to express his view or opinion," he said.
Similarly, referring to acquittal of accused in the infamous 2009 Mangaluru pub attack case, Raj asked how one could believe the judicial system if such is the outcome.
There is a kind of fear psychosis in the region, he said, adding he was surprised to know that a few people made enquires with his driver about his programmes in Mangaluru soon after he landed in the airport on Tuesday night.
Referring to the murder of Gauri Lankesh, he stressed the need to trace the persons who pulled the trigger 'from behind' rather than the persons who actually killed her.