Even before the counting would officially end and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could absorb the dismal drubbing in the Bihar polls last year, a bespectacled man was the first to react, calling Nitish Kumar a political superhero. Pinning the BJP’s defeat firmly on PM Narendra Modi, the man said the elections were always fought in the name of leaders, wasn’t it?
“When the Congress losses, it is Soniaji’s loss. Similarly, these elections were also fought in Modi’s name and just as it credits its poll victories to Modi, the BJP must also accept that the responsibility for this defeat lies with Modi.”
It’s this acerbic wit and the ability to command notorious headlines for the party that has now won the bespectacled man, Sanjay Raut, his third nomination as the party’s Rajya Sabha nominee on Monday. Raut, the executive editor of the party mouthpiece Saamna, has been associated with the daily for 25 years now. Raut has, through the mouthpiece, mounted serial attacks on the BJP and even Modi, personally, often for days at end.
This also puts an end to the rumours that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was not happy with Raut and had been planning to replace him in the RS, as soon as he retires. It also confirms Raut’s position as one of the key persons in Thackeray’s team of top lieutenants running the Sena.
From mocking Modi over his birthday visit to Pakistan to lampooning the BJP’s ‘wave’ and calling it a short-lived gust of wind, the editorials have been at the forefront of the Sena’s rhetoric against its one-time saffron friend.
While Thackeray is the paper’s editor-in-chief, political circles are aware that it is, in fact, Raut who pens the editorials and maintains the party’s identity of rabblerousing, one that its cadre is most attracted to and identifies most with. “In some sense, the Saamna is the link between the cadre and the Sena of the olden days, the Balasaheb-era and Raut is in-charge of ensuring the link remains,” said a party leader.
Raut’s renomination is being read as a signal from the Sena’s top leadership that the editorials will continue and so will Raut’s presence on television screens, lampooning its saffron partner.