Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray reappointed himself as the editor of the party mouthpiece Saamana. On Friday, the print line of the newspaper had Thackeray’s name as the editor and that of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the executive editor.
Since Raut was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case, the newspaper is being run by a team of senior editorial hands across three editions, namely, Mumbai, Pune and Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad).
The newspaper had Sena supremo Bal Thackeray as the editor. After his demise in 2012, Uddhav Thackeray was appointed as the editor in his place, though Raut continued to run the show.
Thackeray stepped down as the editor in 2019 after becoming the chief minister and was replaced by his wife Rashmi. After being ousted by Eknath Shinde as the chief minister in June, Thackeray is back in the saddle as the editor of the party organ.
Saamana and the printed word at large is central to the Shiv Sena’s politics. For, Sena is the only political party to have been birthed by the art of a cartoonist. In August 1960, Bal Thackeray, an accomplished cartoonist, launched a cartoon weekly ‘Marmik’ with his cartoonist-music composer brother Shrikant.
Marmik, which was the first such cartoon weekly in the Marathi media space, took up causes close to the heart of the ‘Marathi manoos’ like jobs for the sons of the soil. This led to the launch of the Shiv Sena in June 1966.
Launched on 23 January 1989, on the birthday of Sena founder with Uddhav Thackeray and senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai playing a major role in its launch. Uddhav used this as a springboard for his formal entry into politics in 1991 and also drew cartoons for the daily.
The title was taken from Vasant Kanade, a Solapur-based journalist who was running it a fortnightly. Senior journalist Ashok Padbidri, who had socialist leanings, was the executive editor, with Raut replacing him in 1992.
Incidentally, Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president, too frequented the Saamna office located at Prabhadevi. His father Shrikant wrote film reviews for Saamna in a column titled ‘Chanderi Dunia’ (celluloid world).
Apart from Marmik and Saamana, the Shiv Sena also has a Hindi ‘Dopahar ka Saamana.’ In 1993, when the Shiv Sena was using Hindutva to expand among non-Marathi speakers, it launched the eveninger as an instrument of its outreach. Sanjay Nirupam, who had been brought in from the Indian Express Group’s ‘Jansatta’ was the executive editor.