'People are free to question me, hold me accountable'

'Bangalore Central is my home, so I chose it as my constituency'

From a theatre artiste to multilingual award-winning actor, Prakash Raj has literally dabbled with all aspects of performing arts. Raj's decision to foray into politics has brought him back into the limelight, given the fact that he is among the few celebrities who are outspoken about their views and thoughts on the present political scenario.

Raj shares with Ashwini Y S of DH his thoughts on the decision to contest as an Independent candidate from Bangalore Central in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.




Why Bangalore Central?

I was born in St Martha’s hospital. I lived my younger days in Shanthinagar and Chamarajpet as a nurse’s son. I did my primary education at St Michaels School in Shanthinagar and later moved to St Joseph’s Indian High School. I did my college education at St Joseph’s College of Commerce; my theatre is Kalakshetra. My industry is Gandhinagar.

This is where I belong. For the last two months, I have been talking to different people. They made it apparent that they needed a change. This is a homecoming for me.

Why did you choose the Lok Sabha polls over Assembly elections during which you were very vocal?

During the Assembly elections, I thought it was important to be a catalyst. But now I think that the citizens’ voice should be in Parliament, that I need to be the change. So I took a call, enough of cribbing and complaining.

Why didn’t you join a political party? Why contest as an Independent?

Have the political parties ever delivered? We the citizens are a majority. The political parties are a minority. I pay the money for the road. The politicians have to deliver the road. But let me certify the road. Likewise, people are free to question me, have doubts about me, make me accountable and answerable.

There were speculations that you may contest either from Dakshina Kannada, Uttar Kannada or Mysore-Kodagu.

This is not winning against somebody. It’s not a cricket match. This is for the people. This is about my roots. We need governance. We need voices. What better space than your place where you are born to be my constituency? I have walked as a child here. I have seen the city growing in front of me. This is the most beautiful pan Indian city/constituency. It has Muslims, Christians, Tamilians, Malayalis and there are people who speak Telugu. It reflects the pan Indian appeal and the reach I have.

I need to represent people who know me. They have no confusions about my agenda. They know me for my courage and my fearlessness for standing up for the truth. So it is better to talk to and seek the support of people who know me. People want a leader who stands for something. It’s not about my reach or the community that I represent.

What do you stand for? What are the issues that concern you?

What have the politicians done with our money? Why are we suffering? None of our voices is heard. I have formed a team comprising writers, theatre personalities, friends, old students, Josephites, my neighbours. We will come out with a manifesto shortly.

I am the first in the country to announce candidature. The politicians will announce their candidates in February-March. But I’m with the people - let’s start deciding.

You are the third film personality to enter politics after Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth…

For you, it is a film personality entering politics. But I am contesting the elections as a citizen.

This is the profession which given you fame, recognition and the voice...

It is not the profession which has given me the voice. It is the stage. The recognition is in connection with my relationship with every audience. The roles I have done, the emotions I have portrayed, the things I have stood for. I am just beyond an actor. They know me as a person who works on villages, who empowers government schools, who has a say, who voices things. My personality is something else, while my profession is something else.

Will films take a backseat now?

I need to focus on this (politics) - so I have decided to give films a break.

This is another phase of my life. I am not shooting till the elections are over. This is a conscious, planned and well thought out decision. It is my team’s decision.

What is your take on the government’s decision to introduce English medium in government schools?

It is very important that we protect our cultural identity and our mother tongue. Kannada should be the medium of instruction. Because that is what students from the rural parts relate to. But you need to teach them a language called English. Mother tongue helps you to perceive, to be creative and to be expressive. I have studied in Kannada medium up to the degree level. The transition was difficult. But then I picked it.

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