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Actor Prakash Raj to contest elections

Critic of Sangh parivar, he had repeatedly questioned Prime Minister Modi’s silence on the murder of Gauri Lankesh

By Our Special Correspondent in Bangalore

  • Published 2.01.19, 3:31 AM
  • Updated 2.01.19, 3:31 AM
Actor Prakash Raj is a strident critic of Modi and the Sangh parivar
Actor Prakash Raj is a strident critic of Modi and the Sangh parivar Telegraph picture

Actor Prakash Raj, an outspoken critic of Hindutva politics and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has finally decided to take the plunge into politics.

The Karnataka-born star, who has made his mark across the south, said he would contest the upcoming parliamentary elections, announcing the decision in a New Year message on social media.

“Happy New Year to everyone.. a new beginning.. more responsibility.. with UR support I will be contesting in the coming parliament elections as an Independent candidate. Details of the constituency soon. Ab ki baar Janatha ki Sarkar,” he said in a Twitter message posted at the stroke of midnight.

The actor, a pet target of right-wing sympathisers for his political stand, could not be reached for further comment. He didn’t respond to a message.

The 53-year-old, a strident critic of Modi and the Sangh parivar, had spoken out at public meetings and through social media after his close friend and senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in September 2017 outside her home in Bangalore.

Raj was a close follower of Gauri’s father, P. Lankesh, who ran the vernacular journal Lankesh Patrike. Very close to the family, the actor had repeatedly questioned Modi’s silence on the murder, drawing personal attacks from the Prime Minister’s supporters.

Within months he had launched his own hashtag — #JustAsking — to question the establishment and all communal organisations.

The special investigations team of Karnataka police, assigned the task of cracking the Gauri case, had unearthed a list of targets that included Raj too. The actor was then provided with armed police security.

When Karnataka voted in the May Assembly elections last year, Raj had urged people not to support communal and fascist forces that seek to divide people based on their religion and community.

A little ahead of the elections, he was among those who had met Janata Dal Secular national president and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda at his residence to discuss possible alliances. Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao was among those who were present.

The JDS and the Congress later formed an alliance and now rule the state as partners.

Raj had even inaugurated a state conference of the Bengal unit of the DYFI, considered the CPM’s youth wing, in Dankuni, Hooghly, in September last year, inviting criticism from right-wing forces.

He had then told The Telegraph that he loved to be at any place that attracted young minds and was open to attending even Congress and BJP events, but on the condition that he should be allowed to speak his mind.