Amid growing fissures between allies Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2017 Mumbai civic polls, BJP parliamentarian Kirit Somaiya plans to take Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to court, filing a defamation suit against him in his capacity as Saamna editor.
Somaiya said that a Saamna article had defamed his family by alleging that a company owned by his wife was redeveloping a Santacruz slum and had committed various irregularities.
Soon after the article was published, the BJP MP rubbished the allegations, threatened to send legal notice to the paper, a Shiv Sena mouthpiece, and demanded an apology.
“I will file a defamation suit against Saamna’s management, owners and editors on June 1. The allegations are only because I had started protesting against a BMC mafia indulging in corruption. Those who have done this, they speak of Marathi asmita and Chhatrapati Shivaji. Chhatrapati Shivaji used to respect women, but these people targeted my wife, a Marathi woman,” Somaiya said.
The BJP leader further upped the ante raising questions about Saamna’s alleged involvement with Chhagan Bhujbal, alleging the author of the article was a liaisoning officer for the NCP leader. “I also got a reply from the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, where it said Bhujbal raised a question about the same Santacruz slum rehabilitation project in the assembly in March. Is there some new kind of coalition developing between Saamna and Bhujbal?” Somaiya said.
The sparring between Somaiya and Shiv Sena first began last week when the MP from Mumbai Northeast alleged that a ‘saheb’ in Bandra was orchestrating scams in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP and executive editor of Saamna, said, “Papers often face such notices in journalism. We were not the only ones to carry the allegations against Somaiya. It was from a press conference and other media organisations had also reported it. If he is choosing to selectively target Saamna, then it is clearly politically motivated.”