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Someone Has to Bell the Cat: Prakash Raj on Sending Legal Notice to BJP MP for 'Trolling'

File photo of actor Prakash Raj. (PTI)

File photo of actor Prakash Raj. (PTI)

Simha on October 2 had flayed the actor in a tweet for questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence over those "celebrating" the killing of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Bengaluru: Actor Prakash Raj on Thursday said he has sent a legal notice to BJP MP Pratap Simha seeking an apology for "trolling" him on social media.

Holding a rare press conference to make this announcement, Raj said this is his campaign against ‘troll-vandalism’ – where he denounced Simha for making personal attacks. Raj said, “When I questioned my Prime Minister about his silence in the wake of Gauri (Lankesh’s) killing, he (Simha) questioned my personal life. He made fun of my pain, in the wake of my son’s death. People voted to power are shamelessly trolling.”

Raj (known variously as Prakash Rai in Karnataka, his birth-place) was angry that an MP of a ruling party could make ‘below-the-belt’ comments as Simha had done in October. Simha, an MP from Mysore-Kodagu, had allegedly asked Raj, “You are a person who was running behind a dancer even when your son had died, what moral right do you have to question Modi.”

Raj said Simha was trivialising his grief over his son’s death, and probably had no idea of how deeply pained all his family members continue to be.

Calling him a ‘serial offender,’ Raj brought up the issue of how Simha had made derogatory remarks on the wife of dead MLA Mahadev Prasad when she sought to contest a by-election.

“He had actually said she was greedy for power when she should be grieving for her husband. Even his party men had told him not to say such things, and I hope they will tell him now too. My campaign is not against him because he is of any party, my campaign is against him for trolling like this when he should be a responsible Member of Parliament. I want to tell the world – you can’t get away with hurting people like this. Someone has to bell the cat and I am doing it… speaking up for so many others who are remaining silent in the face of such troll vandalism. He may be powerful but I will take him on.”

Saying that the silence of the powers-that-be on such personal attacks was further encouraging trolls, Raj said he was not a politician but his ideology was “not saffron” and he felt there was a silent majority that is “waiting to correct its mistake in the 2019 elections.”

An undeterred Simha reacted in Mysore that he was merely ‘reposting’ or ‘retweeting’ someone else’s post – that these were not his original statements – and everyone on social media knows that retweets are not endorsements.

Interestingly, an AAP leader, Raghav Chadha’s, plea on this issue was dismissed by the Delhi High Corut in September – which ruled that if he retweeted Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s tweets, he would be liable for defamation charges if Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wanted to press those charges.

“This was not my statement. It was someone else’s post originally. Send a legal notice to him. Ask you lawyer to find him first. If you need publicity, take it on other fronts, why use Modi’s name to just get publicity? He doesn’t have the strength to face the people, would he have to face the BJP (Sic),” Simha said.

Reiterating his jibe about Raj, who calls himself Rai sometimes, Simha said he would want to know what is Raj’s real name and why he uses one in Karnataka and another in Tamil Nadu -- and why he refused to take a stand on many important issues before.

“You refused to take a stand when it came to the Cauvery issue. When you were asked about this, you only said – ‘I am an actor, let me be an actor, don’t make me a politician.’ Now you are making political statements. I have never made personal attacks against anyone – be it in the Meti case or that of politicians looking at porn clips. I will never do either,” Simha said.