Think Maadi, Vote Maadi
(Do think, do vote).
That is the slogan printed on the profile picture of the official Facebook page of Prakash Raj.
One of the very few Indian film actors who dares to ask questions of the establishment, the citizen in him could take no more as he realised “people were being taken for a ride by political parties.”
Which is why, the Dabang 2 villain is taking on the political establishment that he holds guilty of neglecting the voters for too long.
Naturally, the gutsy actor, who began asking questions of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his previous poll promises, security and safety of citizens after the ghastly killing of his close friend Gauri Lankesh, took the independent route in his bid to enter parliament as the ‘true citizens’ representative determined to ask questions on his and her behalf in Parliament.
He is equally indifferent to both the national parties in the fray and claims that neither of them is ‘secular’ after filing his nomination for the Bangalore Central parliamentary constituency at present represented by KC Mohan of the BJP. The Congress has fielded a youthful Rizwan Arshad, who had lost to Mohan in 2014 general elections.
“Last time, the voters were taken in by the outlandish promises of Mohan and the BJP. But the voters have seen through him and his party. BJP has a history of faking data, but voters won’t be fooled,” Arshad said after kickstarting his campaign. He considers the BJP candidate as his principal rival and does not even want to talk about Prakash Raj.
The BJP candidate on the other hand does not think much of either of his opponents and said that he will win with a bigger margin this time around due to the Modi magic.
Prakash Raj moves around like an Aam aadmi, taking autos, walking and riding in small convoys. Readily mingling with people, he establishes a rapport with the crowd – not huge rallies and meetings – of about 200 to 300. He prefers to address and interact with smaller groups. At these roadside gatherings or in open areas, the actor who is well known for his philanthropic activities as well, takes questions from the people.
He cautions them about how the political establishment had made a fool of them and how important it was to remain vigilant and to think and then only vote.
Prakash Raj will be making history if he manages to win, as only two independent candidates have ever won in Karnataka. This too was way back in 1957, when an independent Sugandhi Murugappa Siddappa won as an independent from Bijapur North and ten years later, another independent Dinakara Desai became victorious from Kanara in the then Mysore in 1967.
The odds appear loaded against the actor and few people wonder whether the actor has taken up a role, he cannot do justice.
But the actor himself is confident.
“I had begun working long time ago, meeting people and talking to them. Individually and in groups. People know me as to how I have adopted villages, empowered people through various activities. It is these politicians who have started only now to campaign,” the actor said in a recent interview.
“People here know me as a struggling actor, actor who has been adopting villages, empowering people, taking stances, not afraid to raise issues and voice. They know me for what I am, they know me as a person,” he says.
“I don’t go to people just to seek votes, I go to have conversations. And I have had tremendous conversations with people across ages, castes and creeds. I have been asking them to think and vote. And I hope this time Bangalore Central thinks and votes.”