Less than 24 hours to go for voting in Bengaluru Central, one of the 14 constituencies in Karnataka going to polls on 18 April, came a twist in the constituency’s politics. Prakash Raj, an independent candidate lashed out at the Congress for sharing a post in different social media platforms that falsely claimed that he backed the party and therefore people should not vote for him.
In a tweet post, Raj called a spade a spade. Or rather Rizwan Arshad, the Congress candidate, a dirty politician. He said : “A man claiming to be the PA of Rizwan Arshad called Mazhar has uploaded a photograph of me with Rizwan at a candidate meeting to publicise that I was backing the Congress. This is the dirty politics of the Congress and I urge my supporters not to fall prey to it.”
Raj, a popular villain and character actor in Indian films in several languages, promised to follow it up with a complaint to the Election Commission against the fake news propagated by the Congress. He also uploaded an audio conversation he had with Mazhar in which he admits to have just forwarded fake news. “Time to teach them ethics,” Raj tweeted.
Even as BJP leaders retweeted and shared Prakash Raj’s outburst on various social media platforms with glee, Rizwan tried to do damage control by tweeting that he has heard of fake news being spread about Prakash Raj’s association with him and requested voters not to fall prey to such rumours.
What the episode revealed was that Raj was being perceived as a threat by at least one of the mainstream party candidates. The arithmetical calculation most likely was that Raj with his image and cine glamour, would be able to woo the neutral voter as well as eat into the anti-Narendra Modi vote that would have otherwise come into the Congress kitty. For close to two years now, Raj has consistently taken on the BJP leadership both in Delhi and Karnataka, vehemently criticising its policies and politics.
Staying true to his poll symbol, the whistle, Raj had blown the whistle on his political rival. He would now want his Tamil voters settled in Bengaluru Central to `whistle podu‘ in his favour. Or `whistle ge vote haaki‘ as he says in Kannada. Or be a whistle blower as his campaign line says in English.
Raj even got his co-star from `Vasool Raja MBBS’ and `Thoongavanam’, Kamal Haasan to endorse and back his candidature in a video message. With Kamal’s party, Makkal Needhi Maiam also contesting elections in Tamil Nadu on the same day, Raj would hope this digital version of the “Kattipudi Vaithiyam” (hugging therapy or Jaadoo ki jhappi in the Hindi version, Munnabhai MBBS) would help his cause.