Actor Prakash Raj on Friday claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party “is like cancer”, while the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) were like cold and cough. He was replying to a question about his recent criticism of the ruling party.

“We will be stupid to treat cough and cold first, instead of cancer,” Raj said in Bengaluru, according to The Hindu.

“I am not in support of any party, but I am against parties that seek to rule through communalism,” the Deccan Herald quoted him as saying. “We see national leaders speaking in a dictatorial tone about ruling the entire country and ridding it of the opposition.”

Raj said he had toured Karnataka – where Assembly elections are due in May – over the past few days, but had to explain to Election Commission officials why he was speaking about political parties.

“I am a citizen and not associated with any political party,” he said, and added, “I do not understand how the code of conduct applies to me.” He said all citizens had the right to their opinions. “I don’t understand why I can’t say do not vote for the BJP.” He said, “My campaign is only against the BJP; let the people decide whom to vote, based on their track record.”

The actor also said that in recent meetings with Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, he spoke of regional parties gaining power in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“There were rumours the JD(S) will join the BJP after the elections in Karnataka. I wanted to ask Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy directly,” he said. “They have both assured me they will not join the BJP.”