Actor-politician Prakash Raj is emerging as a key figure in the efforts by Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in cobbling together an anti-BJP alliance.
The actor was present during Rao's meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Sunday.
Prakash Raj, who acts in Telugu and other South Indian films, is being seen as a key member of KCR's team to forge a front of like-minded regional and national parties.
A bitter critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the actor is an admirer of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief. As Raj enjoys good rapport with leaders in his home state Karnataka and also in Tamil Nadu, KCR is believed to be using his services to reach out to various parties.
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This was not the first time that Prakash Raj was seen taking an active part in the political deliberations around the front.
He was also seen with KCR in 2018 when the latter held series of meetings with leaders of various political parties to prepare ground to launch an alternate front.
Prakash Raj was present when KCR met former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular leader H.D. Deve Gowda in Bengaluru. A few days before this meeting in April 2018, the actor had called on the TRS leader and discussed the proposed plans to float a new front of non-BJP and non-Congress parties.
Prakash Raj had unsuccessfully contested as an independent from Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha in 2019 elections. He recently suffered defeat in the elections of Movie Artists Association (MAA), the apex body of Telugu film industry.
Prakash Raj, who claims to be a strong believer in secularism and unity in diversity, had used various forums to launch a bitter attack on policies pursued by the Narendra Modi government since 2014. He had also taken active part in protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The award-winning actor, who acted in many Telugu films, had also declared his support to the TRS in 2020 elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
After defeat in the MAA elections at the hands of Manchu Vishnu in October last year, Raj had announced his resignation from MAA saying he was pained over regionalism dominating the elections.
Raj lamented that words such as 'tukde tukde gang' and 'terrorists' were used in the election campaign. He pointed out that the Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, while congratulating Vishnu and others, commented that "nationalism" had won the elections.
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Meanwhile, BJP leader Muralidhar Rao on Monday slammed KCR for travelling with Prakash Raj to Mumbai. He asked the Chief Minister to explain what his intention was in taking the actor with him. He remarked that KCR travelling with disruptive forces is dangerous.
He alleged that KCR was visiting other states to divert attention from the people's anger towards his government.