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It’s ‘Kamalabai’ Vs ‘Penguin Sena’ as BJP and Uddhav Thackeray Faction Stir Up Rivalry

The bitterness between the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the BJP appears to be growing by the day as leaders of both sides increasingly indulge in caustic attacks, with the former labeling the ruling group as “Kamalabai” and the “Penguin Sena” ‘ gets. ‘ jib in return. ‘Kamalabai’ is a reference to the poll symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Kamal or lotus, while the term ‘Penguin Sena’ is used by the opponents to mock the Thackeray-led Sena.

Bringing penguins to Mumbai was a pet project of Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray and head of Yuva Sena, the party’s youth wing. Eight Humboldt penguins were brought from Seoul, South Korea, to the city’s Byculla Zoo in 2016. But this verbal war is not just limited to the Thackeray-led Sena and the BJP, as the former has also made vicious remarks against the party’s rebel lawmakers. , which are now part of the state government. The Thackeray faction has labeled the group of rebel lawmakers led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as gaddar’ (traitors) and taunted them with ’50 khoke (boxes)’ remark, implying that each MLA of the Shinde faction was paid Rs 50 crore to switch loyalty.

The attack on the dissidents is spearheaded by Aaditya Thackeray, who last month named state health minister Tanaji Sawant as khekda (crab). And this verbal exchange is expected to escalate further ahead of the pivotal polls to the wealthy Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which sees both warring sides battling to win.

The Thackeray-led government of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) had collapsed on June 29 this year following an uprising by Shinde and 39 other lawmakers against Sena’s leadership. Shinde was sworn in as the prime minister the next day, along with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy. The bitterness between the Thackeray-led Sena and the BJP has since intensified.

Recently, the Shiv Sena has started using the word ‘Kamalabai’ for the BJP. While Kamal is the BJP’s election symbol, ‘bai’ in Marathi means a woman. It all started after the Shiv Sena called the BJP Kamalabai in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ last month.

It so angered the BJP that Ashish Shelar, president of the unit in Mumbai, fired a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, who is also the editor of ‘Saamana’, asking him if his faction would be called Penguin Sena. However, the Sena continues to address the BJP as Kamalabai and in return the latter addresses the Uddhav faction as Penguin Sena’.

Addressing party workers in the outskirts of Goregaon last month, Uddhav Thackeray attacked the BJP, saying: “What is the relationship between Kamalabai and Mumbai. I used the word Kamalabai for the first time because I want them to realize that this Shiv Sena is Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena. Kamalabai is not the word I came up with, it is (Sena founder) Balasaheb (Thackeray) who did it.” The Uddhav Thackeray faction believes that although 40 MLAs and 12 MPs rose up against the leadership, it is the BJP that has brought about the split. The term Kamalabai was mostly used privately by Bal Thackeray and was later used in “Saamana,” congressman and senior journalist Kumar Ketkar, who has seen the Shiv Sena up close for more than five decades, told PTI. Although the two sides were ideologically aligned on the Hindutva issue, Bal Thackeray was never very fond of the BJP, he added.

Senior journalist Prakash Akolkar said Bal Thackeray first used the word Kamalabai in 1985. “In 1984, the Shiv Sena and the BJP formed an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls. But like all opposition parties, the two parties were wiped out. In 1985, the BJP joined forces with the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF). At that time, Bal Thackeray said in a demonstration that Kamalabai left us,” Akolkar recalled.

In his book On My Terms’, Sharad Pawar, head of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), says that when his daughter Supriya Sule’s candidacy for the Rajya Sabha was announced in September 2006, Bal Thackeray called him to offer his support. When Pawar said that the Sena was in alliance with the BJP, his immediate response was, “Oh don’t worry about Kamalabai (the BJP). She will do as I say.” Akolkar said “Penguin Sena” is a direct jibe against Aaditya Thackeray, who played a key role in bringing penguins to the city zoo, which is operated by the money-rich BMC, which has governed the Sena for more than 25 years. criticized by the BJP and also by Congress for the high maintenance costs it entails.

Commenting on critics at the Goregaon rally, Uddhav Thackeray said, “I’m proud to say we brought penguins, but as a photographer I’ve never clicked on pictures of penguins.” The Thackerays have been known to sear their political rivals with swear words. For example, Akolkar pointed out that Bal Thackeray always addressed Sharad Pawar as a “sack of flour,” an obvious reference to his physique. Pawar approached the Election Commission, which prevented Thackeray from using the term. But then Bal Thackeray was a cartoonist and had a deep understanding of the traits of his opponents. But this is not going well with the other Thackerays,” Akolkar added.

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