Sanjay Raut Promoted: The Man Leading Sena Charge Against Kangana
Raut’s appointment as Sena’s chief spokesperson is a political message amid the government’s tussle with Kangana.
In the past few months, if there is any politician that has arguably managed to garner as many headlines as Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, it’s Shiv Sena MP and now the party’s chief spokesperson, Sanjay Raut.
The timing of his appointment as the chief spokesperson is peculiar, as he is facing flak for several controversial and derogatory statements against Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut over the past few days.
So one cannot help but conclude that Raut’s appointment is a clear political message amid the government’s tussle with Ranaut.
In the past few months, several other statements made by him have raised eyebrows. Here are a few others that got not just Raut, but even the Maharashtra government embarrassed.
- “What does WHO understand? It's like CBI. What is global healthcare body? They are just people gathered from here and there.” – Raut in an interview to ABP Majha
- “I never take medicines from a doctor, I take them from the compounder. He knows more than a doctor.” – Raut in an interview to ABP Majha
- “The girl (Kangana Ranaut) who you (media) are advocating for, first ask her what she said about Maharashtra. Stop your 'chamchagiri', I say this to you on record. I will think about apologising to her if she apologises to the state. Does she have the guts to refer to Ahmedabad as Pakistan?” – Raut to ANI
His appointment is also a mere formality for the Sena, since he has been considered the party’s voice on every issue and was the chief negotiator in forming the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance and the break-up with the BJP after the state elections last year, that led to the ouster of former CM Devendra Fadnavis from office.
But there’s more than just the recent events and statements that make Raut the clear choice for the post.
‘Moden Pan Vaaknar Nahi’
Raut can arguably be credited with keeping the 'moden pan, vaaknar nahi...' or the 'would rather break than bend' image of the Sena intact, even as the party has seen a transition from its extreme right-wing and conservative politics to a more passive, sober and governance-oriented avatar in the past few years.
Amid the deadlock over government formation in Maharashtra after the state elections last year, one might have expected Thackeray to make statements over the party's stand on the issue.
But it was Sanjay Raut all over the media – holding meetings with Sharad Pawar, greeting the governor, reiterating the so-claimed power share demand with the BJP, and being the voice of 'Matoshree' that could be heard in Delhi.
Not a People’s Leader, But the Leader’s Man
A three-time Rajya Sabha MP, political pandits don’t necessarily see Raut as the “people’s leader”.
But in the political circles, comments like ‘Uddhav's right-hand man,’ or ‘Raut's editorials speak Uddhav's language,’ etc are commonly used for Raut.
In the run-up to Thackeray becoming the first ever Shiv Sena CM last year, Raut held multiple meetings with Pawar and the Congress party, that brokered the deal for a ‘never-seen-before’ alliance of Sena-NCP-Congres.
While his fierce stance and comments targeted the BJP even while the Sena was in alliance with it, the BJP had often asked the Sena to keep Raut ‘in check’.
Shiv Sainik to the Bone
As the son of a staunch Shiv Sena supporter, who was also the party’s representative in the Sena's union in a Mumbai-based company in its primitive days, Raut has seen the party in and out since a very young age.
As a student, he started writing for 'Marmik', the Sena’s mouthpiece, in its early days, which introduced Balasaheb to Raut's writing prowess until he took over 'Saamana'. It was Balasaheb who recommended him for jobs at The Indian Express and the Marathi weekly called Lokprabha.
Several reports also suggest that many of the pieces penned by Raut have been published by 'Saamana' under Balasaheb's byline.
Sanjay Raut's ‘Saamana’ editorials ‘Rok-Thok’ are considered the party's stand on any issue. Raut is credited with keeping the ‘Balasaheb-style’ of editorials intact for years and that reflects even in his social media posts, which get massive engagement.
As someone considered very close to Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena leadership is often accused of giving a free hand to Raut in party politics as well as ‘Saamana’ editorials.
It was under his editorial command that ‘Saamana’ went from a limited readership in the 90s to becoming a regional daily that makes national headlines.
Raut has always been one of the Shiv Sainiks who has carefully assessed and identified the risks of the BJP being the superior ally, when the two ruled the state together.
Raut has praised Sharad Pawar and even Rahul Gandhi publicly even while being in the bitter alliance with the BJP.
Raut’s closeness with Pawar, both personally and politically is a well-known fact and that is what made him the Sena’s top negotiator amid the power tussle with the BJP following the state elections last year.
Raut has also been seen taking a stand on an issue publicly that might not necessarily resonate with Uddhav's or party’s sentiment.
In another trivia, it was Raut who drafted Raj Thackeray's resignation letter from the Shiv Sena back in 2005.
From a journalist to a Rajya Sabha MP, Raut's political astuteness, coupled with his proximity to both Balasaheb and Uddhav has the party not only standing by him today as he faces flak from all stratas of political and civil circles, but also has it validating all his controversial remarks by appointing him as the chief spokesperson.
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