India Today’s Conclave South 2018 event began today at Park Hyatt in Hyderabad. The event began with a speech from the Editor in Chief of India Today Aroon Purie. Followed by a riveting performance by Yamini Reddy, Bhavana Reddy and percussionist Praveen Sparsh.
Once the crowd was settled in, a talk about politics and the film industry with Prakash Raj was conducted. The panel discussion was anchored by Rahul Kanwal form India Today. Along with Prakash Raj, Actor Vishal, Director Sasidharan and Writer Kancha Illaiah were present for the discussion.
During the discussion, Rahul Kanwal questioned Raj about the allegations that he received land from the Karnataka Government and was anti Hindutva. Raj rubbished the allegations and declared he has sufficient money and land and did not require any from the Government. He further stated he was not anti Hindu but, “I am anti Modi, I am anti Hegde, I am anti Amit Shah. And according to me, they’re not Hindus.”
Prakash Raj also attacked Central Minister Anatkumar Hegde by saying, “Mr. Anantkumar Hegde, who says he wants to wipe out an “ism” a religion from the face of this earth, cannot be a Hindu, ladies and gentlemen.”
At this point, a BJP spokesperson in the audience got offended and interrupted Raj. The BJP spokesperson identified as Krishna Saagar Rao was angry at Raj for saying Modi, Amit Shah and Hegde were not Hindus. To this Raj mocked the spokesperson and said, “A person who supports killing cannot be a Hindu.”
Rao shot back and said, “Who are you to decide who is Hindu?”
By this time Raj was more than amused and laughed and said, “When they can decide I’m anti Hindu, I can tell them, ‘you’re not Hindu.’”
He further added, “People who say ‘Kill’ according to me are not Hindus.”
As the argument got heated Saagar was given a mic and he said, “The fringe you’re talking about, are the masses who are not as educated as you are, as elite as you are, as smooth as you are. But they also have a right to protest. Democracy is about protest. It’s about dissent.”
Raj said, “You’re talking about fringe groups, they’re uneducated and they do it. There are around six to seven of your State Governments where the Supreme Court says Padmavati should be played, and the “fringe elements” say it should not be played. And you, the ruling party, support them by saying, “we’ll ban the film.” Aren’t you against us? Aren’t you against the freedom of speech? Aren’t you?”
Prakash Raj further added, “When Gauri Lankesh, my friend, was killed… This whole thing started with a simple question – that I saw celebrations about her killing. I never said who killed (her). I said people are celebrating and this is violence, this is not right for the society. And the people who are celebrating this are following… And the Prime Minister of this country is following these people. Why is he silent? Why isn’t he saying don’t celebrate, so that I can have a secular feeling in this Country. His silence… He may think it is silence, but it speaks, sir. It speaks.”
The actor further declared, “A true Hindu will not support such activities.”
Raj also said, “My Prime Minister should ask his minister an elected, mandated minister not to say that a religion should be wiped out from this earth. That is not Hinduism, sir. And if my Prime Minister does not ask this Minister to shut up, then I’m asking my Prime Minister you’re also not a Hindu!”
Raj ended with, “I have a genuine, straight question, sir. I’m not looking at my Prime Minister as (someone who) comes from a (particular) party. Whether I’ve voted for him, or I’ve not voted for him, he is still my Prime Minister. I have the right to ask him a question.”
The event went on with K. Chandrashekar Rao having a one on one conversation with Rajdeep Sardesai. The Chief Minister of Telangana spoke of his vision to make the State the best in India. He also spoke about reservations and how they are based on the economic background and not based on religion or caste.
The event will also see a special performance from comedian Sumukhi Suresh at 5:15 P.M. This is the first day of the event which is being streamed live on the India Today website.