Bengaluru: Actor-politician Divya Spandana, who resurfaced online last month after a year of radio silence, has made up her mind. The former Congress social media chief is not returning to politics or movies.
“That ship has sailed,” she told ThePrint, when asked about her plans for a comeback in politics.
“I find this new phase of my life very exciting… I don’t know what the future has in store for me and it is as unplanned as the rest of my life.”
Divya, also known as Ramya, quit as Congress social media chief — a post that often landed her in headlines — last year. The news emerged after the party’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but she insists she put in her papers in the run-up to the elections.
While she may be stepping away from the limelight, Ramya says she won’t stop speaking up.
In a phone interview with ThePrint, she weighed in on the Facebook-BJP hate speech controversy, saying she has “personally experienced” the social media giant’s “bias towards the BJP”.
She also elaborated on the spiritual journey she is undertaking, explaining how she is making an effort to boost her mental and physical health.
‘FB delayed Congress campaign’
Facebook has courted much criticism since The Wall Street Journal reported last week that it turned a blind eye to hate speech by BJP leaders to protect its business interests in India, its biggest market.
Ramya said she’d had a similar experience with Facebook during her stint as Congress social media chief, claiming to have come across “several instances of bias”.
Talking about one such alleged instance, she added, “I wanted to launch the Congress campaign the morning our manifesto was being released. In social media, time is of the essence. Either you are in the game or not. You need to be on the platform in time to… give instant feedback.
“Despite approvals from the Election Commission, Facebook took their own time to release it on the platform. The ads were finally published a day after the manifesto was released.”
Facebook executives, she added, admitted to her that “they received several calls and were under pressure”.
ThePrint has reached Facebook by email for a comment on Ramya’s allegation, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
Taking time off
Ramya was an active voice on social media until she suddenly disappeared off the web space last year. She is now back online, with her characteristic no-holds-barred persona, but Ramya says her time off — time she spent as a recluse — has helped her discover herself.
She used the time to introspect, discover her inner self and find happiness in her new space, she told ThePrint.
“I am on a break. I took a step back, to relax, take time to pause and reflect about my life. I have been focusing on developing my mental and physical well-being, “ she said.
“I have enrolled in a three-year Vedanta programme. I am in the first year and have a few months to finish the year. I enjoy listening to music, Carnatic, Hindustani and Western, and have started painting again,” she added.
‘Will continue speaking up’
Once the reigning queen of Kannada cinema, aka Sandalwood, Ramya had made a gradual exit from the film industry to enter politics. She joined the Indian Youth Congress in 2012, and went on to become a Member of Parliament from Mandya after winning the 2013 by-election. She contested again in 2014, only to lose the election. She was later handpicked by Rahul Gandhi as the social media head for the Congress in 2018.
Ramya said she resigned as Congress social media chief much before the party’s 2019 rout, dismissing speculation that suggested otherwise.
“My resignation was with my boss much before the elections, but it was not accepted. I wanted to take a break after two and a half years of intense work,” she added. “I really loved my job and received a lot of encouragement, support and ideas from Mr (Rahul) Gandhi. I only continued until the elections to fulfil my commitment to the role.”
Despite letting go of her political role, Ramya said, as “a responsible citizen of this country”, she wants to continue raising her voice against injustice and suppression of freedom of speech.
“It’s not all about holding the national flag or standing at the borders to show your nationalism,” she said. Being a good citizen, she added, is to speak up when things go wrong — “without fear”.
This is an updated version of the interview
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