The Shiv Sena-BJP war is all set to intensify. The relationship hit a new low on Friday with BJP MP Kirit Somaiya threatening to drag Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to court and press defamation charges against him.
This comes after Sena mouthpiece Saamna, of which Thackeray is the editor-in-chief, published a front page article carrying allegations by an activist, Kalpana Inamdar, regarding Somaiya and his wife’s involvement in irregularities surrounding a slum-redevelopment project. Somaiya said he had asked for an apology from the Sena mouthpiece which hadn’t come yet and hence, he would approach the Bombay high court on June 1 with these charges.
“I am going to press charges against the editor, the director, the owner and the management of the newspaper,” he said. Under Thackeray, Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut is the executive editor. While the Sena insists that the report was based on the allegations made in a press conference attended by the media, Somaiya said it was politically motivated.
“I am very certain that the report appeared only because I have taken on the mafia in the BMC and the fight that corruption exists in the BMC.” Somaiya dismissed Inamdar’s allegations, claiming that she was a history-sheeter. Somaiya said Inamdar was working with arrested NCP leader and former public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s office as a “liason officer”.
“Do Saamna and Bhujbal have an arrangement to use this lady to defame me? It seems like after Bhujbal, Saamna is now using her as a liason officer to hit out at me,” he said. Not stopping at that, Somaiya said he would now take on the “octroi mafia” in the BMC.
“I challenge the Saamna editor and the owner that I am going to expose the octroi mafia, which is robbing the city’s coffers of around Rs 2,000 crore annually. They can do what they want to, to suppress me,” Somaiya said.
Raut said, “In journalism, one often faces such defamation notices. We were not the only ones to carry the allegations. If he is dragging all media organisations, which published it, to the court, then it’s fine. If he is selectively dragging the Saamna, then it’s politically motivated.”