Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's favourite newspapers, Saamna (in Marathi) and Dopahar Ka Saamna (in Hindi), were published with a full black cover jacket and a full black cover page Sunday.
Thackeray, who passed away Saturday, was the founder-editor of both the newspapers, though the day-to-day affairs were managed by his hand-picked and trusted executive editors.
This is the first time in Saamna's history -- since it was launched 23 January 1988 -- that its two main cover pages are printed in sheer black.On the jacket cover is a large smiling picture of Thackeray, a headline in large font -- "Aaple Saheb Gele" (Our Boss Departs) -- and a small poem in Marathi below it.
The inside main cover has a flier headline: "Ishwari Avtarache Swargarohan" (A divine avatar goes to heaven), accompanied by the day's top story headlined: "Balasaheb navache vadal shaant zhale" (A storm cloud called Balasaheb is peaceful).
Dopahar Ka Saamna, which usually remains closed Sundays, brought out a special edition as a tribute to Thackeray, said executive editor Prem Shukla.
It also sports a full black cover with a silhouetted right side visage of Thackeray with the headline: "Hinduon Ke Mahadev Ka Mahaprayan", and a small poem: "Jo uthe Ram, jo uthe Krishna, Bharat ki mitti roti hai; Kya hua hamare Saheb ko, Yeh murti na zinda hoti hai."
Saamna was founded as a party organ to convey Thackeray's views to the Marathi masses directly. Dopahar Ka Saamna was launched on 23 February, 1993, to woo north Indians settled in Maharashtra and also make Thackeray's views heard in national capital New Delhi.
Over the years, Thackeray had mastered the art of using the two newspapers' columns -- stern leaders, acidic edits, rare signed edits or statements and an occasional personalised edit -- through which he spared none, be they relatives, friends or foes.
Little wonder, Saamna was usually the only Marathi newspaper placed on the office desks of all incumbent (ruling at any point in time) Maharashtra chief ministers, while relevant clippings from other publications were kept for his attention.
Shukla said this was probably the first time in Indian media history that two daily newspapers have published their front pages in full black as a tribute to the Shiv Sena leader and editor Bal Thackeray.
Moreover, Thackeray's name also appeared as 'Editor' in its regular place, as it has been since the launch of both the newspapers.