Did Sanjay Raut illegally pass out material for his weekly media column? That is the question the ED is interested now, after the leader’s weekly column Rok Thok in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana was published on Sunday despite him being in custody before that.
According to a report by the Times of India, Enforcement Directorate officials, who are probing Raut in a money laundering case, will question the MP to check whether he had written the article and passed it out of jail illegally or had no connection to it.
The report quoted ED sources as saying that Raut was not permitted to write columns or articles while in custody unless specific permission is granted by the court, which he had not received.
The column criticises Governor B S Koshyari for claiming that excluding Gujaratis and Rajasthanis would leave no money in Mumbai. It also mentions Koshyari’s apology for his remark, which was issued the day after Raut’s arrest.
The column also criticises ED, saying that the agency has shut down sugar factories, textile mills, and other industries run by Marathi people, and a web of cases has been cast around Marathi entrepreneurs. “The governor should also address this issue,” the column said.
Sena leaders speculated that Saamna staffers were responsible for the weekly column, which featured Raut’s byline and photograph, according to the report.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray had earlier come back as the Chief Editor of the party newspapers — the multi-edition Marathi ‘Saamana’ and the Hindi language ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’. Thackeray replaces his wife Rashmi who was named as the Editor around 32 months ago when he took over as Maharashtra Chief Minister.
The development came five days after the Enforcement Directorate arrested Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut in an alleged money-laundering case. Raut, who has been the Executive Editor of ‘Saamana’ continues in the same post, as per the printline of Friday’s edition.
The broadsheet ‘Saamana’ was founded in January 1988 when its Founder-Editor was the late Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, while the tabloid ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’ was launched in February 1993, through the Prabodhan Prakashan Pvt. Ltd.
The two newspapers were launched as the Sena nursed a grouse of getting ‘biased’ and ‘inadequate’ coverage in the local, regional or the national media and sought to present its viewpoint on various issues, and Balasaheb Thackeray helmed both the publications till his passing away in 2012.
Thackeray was named as the Group Editor but he stepped down in favour of his wife after he became the Chief Minister in November 2019, and resigned in June 2022.
From inception, the ‘Saamana Group’ is noted for its fiery writings, oft taking controversial stand on several issues and remains in the limelight for its headlines and hard-hitting edits or special columns, and top political leaders of most political parties make it a point to scan through both the newspapers regularly.
With inputs from agencies