‘Raised my voice as I realised society is in danger’

Actor and activist Prakash Raj, known for his vitriolic attacks against the BJP, is convinced that the saffron party will not come to power when Karnataka goes to polls on May 12. In conversation with Ashwini Y S of DH, Raj elucidates his thoughts on the politics of the day and the reasons for his foray into public affairs.

How will you define your (#JustAsking Foundation) movement? Also, why does one see only Prakash Raj at the forefront of this movement?
#JustAsking Foundation is like a permanent opposition party. Here, the citizens will be the permanent opposition party, no matter who comes to power. Since I am the catalyst for the movement, you see me in the forefront.

What has your movement achieved so far?
I started conversations with around 200 to 300 like-minded people, like writers, poets, lecturers, doctors and lawyers. We are in the process of creating a cadre of 3,000 people who are not interested in electoral politics, but who have a voice, an idea and can empower people — give them a platform to come and ask their questions.

Why foray into politics now?
I was always politically aware. But after I started asking questions about Gauri Lankesh’s death, there was a backlash. I realised that society is in danger, and I think I should raise my voice now. Politics has now become a way of life for me.

But the Congress, too, looked away initially.
Yes, it did. Everybody is indulging in politics. That’s the reason I haven’t joined any political party. I’m looking at a different narrative — to empower people to ask questions, so that nobody will get away.

People are wondering why you haven’t joined the Congress yet.
It’s not that I didn’t think of entering politics or starting a party. This decision has been arrived after deliberations with myself and with people. I have chosen a more difficult path. I am swimming in a sea, I don’t want to get into a well.

Are you trying to form a third front ahead of 2019 polls?
I have never said that I will support the third front. Just because I met K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) and H D Deve Gowda, this perception has emerged. It is a different political portrait we are setting. We are going to be in talks with Naveen Patnaik — there will be discussions with all different regional party heads.

Have you taken a break from films to pursue your political journey?
I haven’t. I have just changed my priorities. Since I am travelling as part of the #JustAsking movement, I will not be shooting until May 10. After election results are out, I will start work on a Malayalam film which is being shot in Nainital.

What is your take on the Congress’ move to give ‘minority religion’ tag to Lingayats?
If Lingayats want their dharma, let them have it. But dharma should not be mixed with politics. I don’t know if the Lingayats at large are happy — some want it, some don’t want it. It’s a web.

What are your predictions for the May 12 polls?
The BJP will not form the government. And I wish the JD(S) will not sell the state to BJP. They claim to be secular.

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