His brother is the suspect in the attack on Marathi channel IBN Lokmat’s office in Mumbai on Friday.
But the spotlight is on Sanjay Raut even as the police look for his brother Sunil, Shiv Sena’s Assembly candidate from Bhandup.
Raut (48) is a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and executive editor of Sena’s mouthpiece, Saamna.
Many say he was the voice behind Saamna’s stand on the Sachin Tendulkar controversy. The paper published Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s open letter to Tendulkar and carried a strong editorial. Thackeray had taken on Tendulkar after the latter said Mumbai belonged to every one.
Raut also defended the attack on IBN Lokmat office.
“Raut plays a role in what Thackeray writes in the Saamna,” said a senior Sena leader who did not want to be named. “Raut, unlike other top leaders of the party, still has direct access to Balasaheb.”
A journalist, Raut entered the Sena as executive editor of Saamna. He soon became Thackeray’s favourite as he could imitate his style of writing.
His stature grew after the Sena came to power in Maharashtra in the 1990s. When Uddhav Thackeray took over as executive president, Raut was elevated to the rank of upneta (deputy leader). He became a part of the party’s highest decision-making body.
In 2004, Thackeray nominated him to the Rajya Sabha.
Thackeray, due to his frail health, relies on Saamna to communicate his views because he cannot make public appearances.
This has worked for Raut who often nudges the party’s top brass to take a stand on issues, especially after Raj Thackeray’s exit.
“Am I working against my party’s policy? I am doing what has been the Sena chief’s policy,” Raut said. “We are aggressive but that is how the Sena is. When we are not aggressive, the media says we have lost the fire.”