Raj to woo ‘Maratha’

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The party is likely to name its mouthpiece Marhatta in an attempt to lure the Maratha community.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (Raj-Lead) which had managed to win only a single seat in the assembly election is trying to revive itself and is planning to launch its mouthpiece either the end of this year or early next year. MNS president Raj Thackeray is emulating Shiv Sena which already expresses its opinion through its mouthpiece Saamna. Political parties in Maharashtra have for years used their mouthpiece to express their ideology or attack opponents.

Earlier MNS president Raj Thackeray had released blue print for Maharashtra but if failed to impress voters. He also had a meet with party workers to discuss the future course of action to be taken to rebuild the party.

According to sources, “After the poll debacle even media has been distancing themselves from the MNS party. Thus the party can use the mouthpiece as a medium to express its views and also make clarifications about any issue. It will enable the party to prepare for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections scheduled to be held in 2017.”

Sources in the MNS disclosed that the name of the daily will be ‘Maratha’. Raj had bought this title long ago from Shishir Pai, the daughter of Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atray, a legendary Marathi writer, political leader and filmmaker. Maratha was a leading newspaper during Atray’s stewardship, but it gradually died down following his death in 1969.

The paper had played a crucial role in the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalwal (movement for united Maharashtra) campaign in the 1950s and still has a recall value in the Marathi psyche. The daily closed in the early 1970s.

“However, Atre’s daughter Shirish Pai now owns all rights to the title Daily Maratha and she is not ready to part with rights to the title and that’s why Thackeray is considering the name Marhatta,” said a person associated with Marathi publishing industry who did not wish to be named.

“The party is likely to name the mouthpiece as Marhatta in an attempt to woo the Maratha community who play a dominant role in the state politics” said sources.

When contacted, Pai confirmed that Thackeray had approached her for the rights to the title but she refused to part with them.

“Thackeray himself will be editor of the newspaper,” a senior MNS leader, who did not want to be named.

When asked about the timeline for the project, the sources said it had not been firmed up yet, but the newspaper would be out well before the BMC elections are held.

Raj Thackeray had earlier released a cartoon ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah over their party’s humiliating rout in the Delhi Assembly polls, which had invited sharp rebukes from the saffron party.

“Raj Thackerayji has found a way to hog limelight (after his party’s poor show in Maharashtra Assembly poll). His cartoon has grabbed attention. (He) should do it full-time,” Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar had said.