“They say I’m anti-Hindu… No. I am anti-Modi, I am anti-Hegde, I am anti-Amit Shah. And according to me, they’re not Hindus.”
With these words, Prakash Raj is once again in the eye of a storm. The actor was part of a panel discussion at the India Today South Conclave on Thursday, moderated by India Today anchor Rahul Kanwal. Along with him on the stage were actor Vishal, director Sasidharan (the maker of Malayalam film Sexy Durga) and writer and thinker Kancha Illaiah.
During the discussion, Prakash Raj supported director Sasidharan, who has been facing backlash for naming his film “Sexy Durga”.
“This film is not about Hinduism. This film is not against Hindu tatva,” Prakash Raj said. “But still they insist the film is about Hinduism…”
Following this, Rahul Kanwal questioned him about allegations that Prakash Raj had received land from the Karnataka government, and that he was anti-Hindutva. Rubbishing the allegations, Prakash Raj declared that he had enough land and enough money, and did not need any land from the government. He further declared that he was not anti-Hindu, “I am anti-Modi, I am anti-Hegde, I am anti-Amit Shah. And according to me, they’re not Hindus.”
He also went on to attack central minister Anantkumar Hegde.
“Mr Anantkumar Hegde, who says he wants to wipe out an “ism” – a religion from the face of this earth, cannot be a Hindu, ladies and gentlemen.”
At this point, an offended BJP spokesperson who was in the audience decided to interrupt Prakash Raj. The man who identified himself as Krishna Saagar Rao of the BJP, was upset with the actor’s comment that Modi, Amit Shah and Hegde were not Hindus.
“A person who supports killing cannot be a Hindu,” Prakash Raj further said.
“Who are you to decide who is Hindu?” Krishna Saagar asked Prakash Raj.
“When they can decide I’m anti-Hindu, I can tell them, “you’re not Hindu”,” Prakash Raj replied.
“People who say, “Kill,” according to me are not Hindus,” he further said.
By then, the organisers decided to hand Krishna Saagar a mic to air his discontent. Defending the BJP, the party spokesperson claimed that the BJP does not dictate to anyone what they should say or when they should say it.
“The fringe you’re talking about, are the masses who are not as educated as you are, as elite as you are, as smooth as you are,” Krishna Saagar said, referring to Prakash Raj’s earlier comments on Padmavat and Karni Sena. “But they also have a right to protest. Democracy is about protest. It’s about dissent,” he said.
He further questioned why only “left, ultra left” voices were being given a platform when “we are ruling 75% of the country.”
“You’re talking about fringe groups, they’re uneducated and they do it…” Prakash Raj said. “There are around six to seven of your state governments where the Supreme Court says Padmavati should be played, and the “fringe elements” say it should not be played. And you, the ruling party, support them by saying, “we’ll ban the film.” Aren’t you against us? Aren’t you against the freedom of speech? Aren’t you?” the actor asked the BJP man.
“When Gauri Lankesh, my friend, was killed… This whole thing started with a simple question – that I saw celebrations about her killing. I never said who killed (her). I said people are celebrating and this is violence, this is not right for the society. And the people who are celebrating this are following… And the Prime Minister of this country is following these people. Why is he silent?” Prakash Raj asked.
“Why isn’t he saying don’t celebrate, so that I can have a secular feeling in this country. His silence… He may think it is silence, but it speaks, sir. It speaks,” he said.
“A true Hindu will not support such activities,” Prakash Raj said.
“My Prime Minister should ask his minister – an elected, mandated minister – not to say that a religion should be wiped out from this earth. That is not Hinduism, sir. And if my Prime Minister does not ask this Minister to shut up, then I’m asking my Prime Minister – you’re also not a Hindu!” the actor said.
“I have a genuine, straight question, sir. I’m not looking at my Prime Minister as (someone who) comes from a (particular) party. Whether I’ve voted for him, or I’ve not voted for him, he is still my Prime Minister. I have the right to ask him a question,” he said.