Condolences pour in on sudden demise of Sujata Anandan, author and political commentator

The journalists' community, especially in Maharashtra, reacted with shock at the passing of National Herald's consulting editor

Sujata Anandan (photo: @MassComm NagpurUniversity/Facebook)
Sujata Anandan (photo: @MassComm NagpurUniversity/Facebook)

NH Digital

She passed away with her boots on, and was working until the very end. The consulting editor for National Herald in Mumbai for the past several years, Sujata Anandan had helped launch the Mumbai edition of Sunday broadsheets National Herald on Sunday and Sunday Navjeevan in Hindi.

She was working on Wednesday night until a few hours before her sudden and untimely death, and mailed the final part of a report at around 9.00 pm with a cryptic message, ‘Sorry for the delay, was in a crisis’.

She passed away hours later following a cardiac arrest at the Navi Mumbai home she shared with her sister.

In her late 60s, Sujata remained prolific, even a workaholic, fondly recall shocked colleagues, remembering how she would file reports and comments even from her hospital bed whenever she was admitted, the last time barely a few weeks ago.

Having worked for UNI, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Outlook and National Herald, Sujata left her imprint everywhere. She was a ‘South Mumbai’ journalist with a fierce social commitment, and wedded to progressive ideals, recalled one of her editors. Another remembered her passionate advocacy for the rights of pavement and slum dwellers.

She was proudly secular, wore it as a badge of honour, and never minced her words while attacking bigotry. She once famously wrote that though she was a devout Hindu, she would never be able to worship at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya because it had blood in it.

Sujata was a journalist on first-name terms with several prominent Maharashtra politicians and former chief ministers, who trusted her independence and honesty.

Those who knew her recall her kindness and how she often went out of her way to help people she barely knew with college and medical admissions, doctors' appointments, pick-ups for strangers to the city, and unsparingly helped other journalists with information, leads and introductions to prominent personalities.

Sujata Anandan during a Herald event in February 2022
Sujata Anandan during a Herald event in February 2022
(photo: @NotMengele/X)

“She was a rare political journalist, warm and open, concerned about people and the country,” reflected another of her editors.

A Mumbaikar and a passionate supporter of the Indian National Congress, she fondly remembered her meetings with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, recalling vividly the uncomfortable questions she asked them, and said wistfully how their replies had taken her by surprise. Active on social media, she would often be outspoken and criticise the BJP and the RSS, occasionally losing her temper with crass right-wing trolls.

Vir Sanghvi, former editor of Hindustan Times, condoled her death and posted on X: “Saddened to hear of the passing of @sujataanandan, one of the finest political commentators in Maharashtra. She was among the first people I hired at the HT & later when we launched the Mumbai edition, she became one of its pillars. Decent, helpful & sensitive, she was very special.”

Sujata Anandan at Hawa Mahal in 1987
Sujata Anandan at Hawa Mahal in 1987
(photo: @meenamo/X)

TV anchor, author and columnist Rajdeep Sardesai in his condolence message said, “Veteran Mumbai-based journalist Sujata Anandan passed away last night. Sujata chronicled Maharashtra politics for years, wrote a very fine book on the Shiv Sena. We were all part of a Mumbai media fraternity in the 1980s/1990s long before news became noise. RIP Om Shanti.

Author, columnist, former Prasar Bharti chairperson and editorial advisor to the National Herald Mrinal Pande posted, “RIP #SujataAnandan you were one of the old timers who upheld journalistic values. You will be missed by all of us .

Former editor-in-chief of Outlook Krishna Prasad recalled, “In fond memory of Sujata Anandan, the fine and feisty journalist who passed away in Mumbai last night. In newspapers, magazines, books and tweets carrying her name, @sujataanandan was proudly and unapologetically secular. And, till her end, wedded to journalism as it used to be."

Former colleague, editor and commentator Madhavan Narayanan reacted and said, “Disturbed to hear of the untimely demise of @sujataanandan. A Maharashtra expert who I first noticed as a senior reporting on burning Assam in the 1980s, later as HT colleague & fellow traveller on Twitter. She persuaded me to write for the Herald. Rest well #SujataAnandan !

Another former colleague and editor Viju Cherian exclaimed, “It's sad to hear of #SujataAnandan’s demise. I’ve known her since 2013 (through editing her HT column ‘Anandan on Wednesday’) and later when she wrote for Moneycontrol. Her understanding of the nuances of Maharashtrian politics was amazing, and her politeness was refreshing. #RIP

Another friend and fellow traveller Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, tweeted his condolences and said, “Grieving the untimely demise of my dear friend @sujataanandan, a fearless honest journalist, a rare breed in present times. She will be sorely missed."

AICC general secretary Avinash Pande condoled the death and recalled, “Veteran journalist, columnist & staunch supporter of liberal, progressive & secular thinking, my dear friend and close confidant, Sujata Anandan is no more. She covered a wide range of national problems in her writings for HT and the National Herald. Sujata chronicled Maharashtra politics for years like no other. Rest in power dear Sujata! Your steely courage and sharp humour will resonate loud."

Journalist and another former colleague Geeta Seshu condoled the death by tweeting, “RIP, @sujataanandan. You left too early, like a true journalist, with your boots on. Such a great loss to journalism and to so many of us, personally, as colleagues for decades. You brought such clarity and perspective in your recap of political history and perspective."

Activist and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni mourned the death and said, “I am sad and shocked to know that two veteran journalists in Mumbai — Satish Nandgaonkar and Sujata Anandan — have suddenly left us. I knew them both and admired them as much for their integrity and social commitment as for their professionalism. Om Shanti!"

As condolences pour in, here are a few more messages on social media:

Neeta Kolhatkar

Live happy and in your humorous way dear @sujataanandan. will miss our giggling telephone conversations...see you on the other side

Nilanjana Roy

Am so sorry and saddened to hear of her death — much too soon. She was a fine and courageous journalist who truly believed in and wanted a better future for the country. Deepest condolences to her family and friends.

Laadli @Laadli_PF deeply condoles the passage of veteran journalist @sujataanandan. Her sharp political insight made her 35-year career with @IndianExpress, @Outlookindia & @uniindianews stand out. Prayers for courage to her family, friends & peers to bear with this loss.

Alka Dhupkar

पत्रकार सुजाता आनंदन @sujataanandan यांचं काल रात्री निधन झालं. एका अशा पिढीच्या त्या प्रतिनिधी होत्या ज्यांनी महाराष्ट्रातल्या राजकीय संस्कृतीची स्थित्यंतरं पाहिली. सतत लिहिण्यात, पत्रकारितेच्या विविध जबाबदाऱ्या सांभाळण्यात या वयातही त्या व्यस्त असत.

The passing of veteran journalist Sujata Anandan is a loss for political journalism during this crucial time. My condolences go out to her family members & friends. I will miss & cherish our long telephonic conversations. Alwida Sujata Madam.

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