Sena sees red over 'B word' yet again

Oct 07, 2011, 15:17 IST | Vinay Dalvi

Shiv Sainiks paste 'Mumbai' over Wadia group's 'Bombay Realty' poster; Wadias change it back to 'Bombay'; Sena tears it down and shrouds it in white cloth, with 'Mumbai' scrawled on it 
"We are warning people intoxicated by the name of Bombay... Those that don't understand the warning may find they don't have a path to escape tomorrow."
--  A Saamna editorial, 2008

Writing's on the wall: Over the last 24 hours, the Sainiks struck down
the poster of Bombay Realty outside the Pran Sukhlal Mafatlal Hindu
Swimming Bath and Boat Club in Girgaum twice. Pics/Milind Karekar

In case you had dared to forget, you still can't say the B-word.

Despite Shiv Sena's aggressive diktat that the city is Mumbai, the Wadia group, which owns the legendary textiles firm Bombay Dyeing, has named its real estate venture, Bombay Realty. The group put up a poster at Girgaum saying as much. The Sainiks saw it. What happened next is anybody's guess.

Shiv Sena, which succeeded in renaming the City of Dreams from Bombay to Mumbai in 1996, hit out at the Wadias after they launched the realty sector under the banner of Bombay Realty. Over the last 24 hours, the Sainiks struck down posters of Bombay Realty outside the Pran Sukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Bath and Boat Club in Girgaum twice.

"We saw the poster of Bombay Realty outside the Mafatlal Bath and made a new poster, that read Mumbai Realty," said Pandurang Sapkal, Sena's Vibhag Pramukh for South Mumbai. "Accompanied by my party worker, Raj Porkar, up-vibhag pramukh of South Mumbai, I went and replaced it with the new poster in the wee hours of Wednesday. We have always demanded that people call this city Mumbai, not Bombay."

Sapkal continued, "We declared Mumbai as the official name for the city a long time back. This has been accepted by most of the companies as well as government organisations, and they have made the necessary amendments accordingly."

Lots in a name: Sena activists demonstrate at Girgaum after striking
down the 'Bombay Realty' poster the second time yesterday and
cloaking it with a white cloth. Pics/Milind Karekar

But the Sena's expected action was met with an equal and opposite reaction from the firm. After Sainiks replaced the poster, officials from Bombay Realty removed it the same afternoon, and reinstated the one saying 'Bombay Realty'.

The Sainiks, offended earlier, were furious now. In a tat for tit for tat, they blanketed the poster with a white cloth, and marked it with black squiggles.

"In the afternoon, when we came to know that our poster had been removed by them, we went and replaced it once again. This time, we covered the hoarding with a plane white cloth," Sapkal said.

He did not mention the patchy graffiti smeared on the said cloth - angry scribbles that unequivocally mention 'Shiv Sena' and 'Mumbai' in Marathi.  The reworked poster at the site sends out a caveat that Sainiks cannot tolerate the old name.

What of the legacy?
Despite MiD DAY's repeated attempts to get in touch with officials from Bombay Realty through calls, text messages and e-mails, they remained unavailable for comment.

However, some experts who have been tracking Bombay Dyeing shares said that what is, is. "Why should they change the name? The Wadia Group's legacy dates back to over 250 years, with the group's first business venture of shipbuilding. They later diversified into commodity trading, textiles etc. They have been using the word Bombay Dyeing for the last 132 years," an expert said on the condition of anonymity.

In May 2008 
>> Over 20 Sena supporters were arrested for agitating outside Bombay Stock Exchange over its name. 
>> Sainiks painted 'Mumbai Scottish' on the walls of Bombay Scottish School -- where Uddhav Thackeray's children have studied; knocked down Bombay Dyeing boards outside company's Worli showroom.

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