Why are the ‘Hindutva’ killers born poor, asks Prakash Raj

Actor Prakash Raj’s strident criticism of Hindutva have provoked critics to label him as anti-Hindu. He has received death threats and has been viciously trolled on social media

Why are the ‘Hindutva’ killers born poor, asks Prakash Raj
user

Sarah Fazal

Actor Prakash Raj has been all over the media for his political views of late. His strident criticism of Hindutva have provoked critics to label him as anti-Hindu. He has received death threats and has been viciously trolled on social media. But while remaining unapologetic, he reiterates that he is not anti-Hindu. He spoke to Sarah Fazal in Bengaluru

Q: First the assassination of Gauri Lankesh and now the news that you yourself were on the hit list of the killers…how do you cope with it?

A. If you read Waghmare’s statement, he himself was unaware that he was committing such a big crime. Even his parents were unaware of what made him commit the crime. What I want to know is who brainwashed him? Some ‘leader’ also said that in every household there will be a Waghmare born.

To save a religion is fine but I wonder why these killers, Waghmare and his kind, are born in poor families? Why are they born in slums? Why are they desperate people with no jobs? Why are they not born in houses of leaders? This is what the society needs to ask.

I knew Gauri for 35 years. We grew up together. Her father was our mentor. We have our own ideologies, differences but killing is not the solution. This is being done to instil fear. I am more worried about people who celebrate the killing of others and say ‘they asked for it’. This is what I asked the PM. “Why are you silent about people celebrating her death?” Why doesn’t he reprimand them? Rapes are being communalised and the media is going to town identifying rapists by their religion…a Hindu girl raped, a Muslim girl raped. We don’t want religion to blurr crimes. The same people are now spreading the word that ‘Prakash Raj is anti-Hindu’. I am only against Hindutva politics, not against Hindus or any religion. We need to worry about why so very few people are asking these questions. I am not worried about threats.

Q: You had an acerbic exchange with BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Times Now before the Karnataka election…what would you have liked to tell Swamy that you didn’t on live TV?

A. It was such a contrived thing. People who came on the show were not even ready to answer questions. He was only interested in acting and making personal remarks. I did not do that with him. In his own family, he has a Parsi wife, a daughter who has married a Muslim. Yet he can stay in complete harmony; but he does not want others to live in harmony! What kind of a hypocrite is he? He did not answer a student’s question but started talking about rules and regulations in the Constitution. We need people whose hearts beat for the country, who look at things in a humane way.

The one thing I wanted to tell him on TV was “let’s talk as two responsible human beings…let us talk about an inclusive, tolerant society. We are not here to win arguments but to discuss and have a dialogue. It’s not a Kabbadi match on TV. We are people who have grown in stature based on our own talent and we need to be more responsible.”

Q: You have travelled extensively across Karnataka in the last few months. What do you think should the priorities be of this new government?

A. The government should start by removing corruption from bureaucracy. They have to look into the state’s education, health and farmers’ issues. A major issue is the lack of attention to youth unemployment which needs to be addressed. No government can get away by saying ‘BJP promised 2 crore jobs or Congress promised 2 crore jobs’.

There are so many schools, colleges where teachers are not permanent. Make them permanent and give them job security.


What does Amit Shah do? He visits mutts, meets religious chiefs. What have they turned politics into? Hindutva is different, and Hinduism is different. Hinduism is a way of life, one of the most beautiful religions we have. A tolerant religion, it embraces everybody. But, what have they turned it into?

Q: In your travels, what did you pick up about the BJP in the state?

A. We know what the BJP did in Karnataka. They created a fear psychosis. Everyone agrees that money played a huge role and voters are no longer content with words but want cash and kind before voting. Who reduced the election to this?

BJP said they would remove black money, but it was clear that a large part of black money was being distributed to their own people. Their only aim is apparently to remove the Congress out of their way. I am not a Congressman and I cannot care less.

But must the BJP be allowed to get away with poor governance or use of muscle power and money power? Wherever Amit Shah goes, he buys somebody. Are these the leaders we want?

What does Amit Shah do? He visits mutts, meets religious chiefs. What have they turned politics into? Hindutva is different, and Hinduism is different. Hinduism is a way of life, one of the most beautiful religions we have. A tolerant religion, it embraces everybody. But, what have they turned it into?

Q: The JD(S)-Congress coalition is said to be under strain. How long do you think it will last?

A. The coalition will have to work or else JD(S)- Congress will disappear from Karnataka. They must focus on governance. They

have fought against the BJP and they cannot be fighting amongst themselves.

Q: What is the Prakash Raj Foundation all about?

A. The foundation started three years ago, when I realised I need to give back something to the society. The journey began

with adopting the village of Konda Reddy Palli in Telangana almost one-and-a-half-years ago. Since then we have built schools, formed groups, empowered women, focused on education, empowered youth via jobs. We also made the Swachh Bharat mode faster and addressed farmers’ issues. See, adopting a village does not mean simply spending money. The foundation has done work

with the Karnataka Wildlife via media channels and the Government. We have travelled across villages bordering wildlife and addressed man-animal conflict issues.


We help people who need support, for which we have a group of parents and teachers who are thinking about strengthening the curriculum. We are also introducing theatre in these areas. Ten theatre personalities will go and stay in the village from September to December

Q: What kind of support has it received from the civil society, government and industry?

A. Firstly, 25 per cent of my earnings go into the foundation. A few of my friends support me. But, the media and the government have been very supportive. I always believe in participating in governance rather than putting everything on the government. We have a lot of activists on board. Today, the Prakash Raj Foundation has joined hands with Just Asking Foundation to empower education in government schools. It’s not just these two foundations but many others who are working as well.

We have also taken in many writers, teachers and those who know about these issues. There is a think tank doing work, it is not a one-man organisation. We help people who need support, for which we have a group of parents and teachers who are thinking about strengthening the curriculum. We are also introducing theatre in these areas. Ten theatre personalities will go and stay in the village from September to December.


(The author is a member of The NewsCart, aBengaluru-based media startup)

Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines