In its hey day, The Pioneer counted Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill and Harivanshrai Bachchan among its star correspondents.
But 155 years after it rolled off the press in Lucknow, the newspaper has run into serious financial trouble, with insolvency proceedings being launched against its publishing company CMYK Printech.
Purchased by the Thapar Group in 1990, who roped in Vinod Mehta to edit it, the ownership changed hands to Chandan Mitra, the Oxford-educated Marxist in 1998, when the BJP came to power.
A 2009 piece in The Tribune said:
“Chandan Mitra mysteriously [became] the proprietor of The Pioneer without spending a rupee, thanks to the generosity of the BJP and more particularly that of LK Advani….
“When the BJP lost power in 2004, all the branded BJP editors — Kanchan Gupta, Swapan Dasgupta, A. Surya Prakash and Udayan Namboodri — were pensioned off to Chandan Mitra’s Pioneer.“
Chandan Mitra was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, but shifted loyalties to the Trinamool Congress after he was consigned to the doghouse by the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah combine.
Under Mehta, The Pioneer exposed the corruption of Rajiv Gandhi‘s bosom buddy Captain Satish Sharma. Under Mitra, it played a stellar role in unravelling the 2G spectrum allocation scam, through the work of its reporter J. Gopikrishnan.
Screenshot: courtesy Business Standard
Also read: The best Editor The Pioneer never had?