The India Today Conclave that is happening in Hyderabad saw some startling revelations and some no-holds-barred quotes from two Kannada actors – Prakash Raj and Sruthi Hariharan – on the first day (January 18).
Prakash Raj has been vocal about Hindutva politics ever since the death of Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh. He had questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-run government over its silence on the issue. When his popular column in the Kannada newspaper Udayavani was discontinued, he blamed the “invisible hands”. At the conclave, the actor spoke about the recent attacks on freedom of expression and the political backlash against him.
“They say I am anti-Hindu. No. I am anti-(Narendra) Modi, I am anti-Hegde, I am anti-Amit Shah. According to me, they are not Hindus. Mr Anant Kumar Hegde, who says he wants to wipe out an ‘ism’, a religion from the face of this Earth, cannot be a Hindu. The person who supports killing, cannot be a Hindu,” he said.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) January 18, 2018
Incidentally, recently members of the BJP Yuva Morcha stormed into a venue in Sirsi, Karnataka, where the actor was supposed to speak and they allegedly “cleaned” the venue with cow urine.
BJP workers cleaning and purifying the stage ..from where I spoke in Sirsi town …by sprinkling cow urine (divine gomoothra)…???…will you continue this cleaning and purification service where ever I go….. #justasking pic.twitter.com/zG1hKF8P4r
— Prakash Raj (@prakashraaj) January 16, 2018
Referring to Padmaavat, Prakash Raj said that there’s a lot of arm-twisting happening. “These state governments are citing reasons of law and order. They should step down. Because, they are not fit to be there in the first place. Or accept that with power, we are arm-twisting. Then they should be sent out by us. So, it is very clear that they want to stall, they want to cater to a fringe group… It is a very straight blatant attack on free expression,” he said.