The mortal remains of noted trade union leader and founder of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Dattopant Thengadi were consigned to flames on October 15 in the presence of a large gathering of distinguished people, including former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, RSS Sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan and Sarkaryvah Shri Mohan Bhagwat in Pune. Thengadi'snephew, Satish Thengadi lit the pyre. Dattopantji had passed away on October 14 in a private nursing home in Pune, where he was admitted after a fall in the bathroom.
Thengadi'sashes were immersed in Nasik. Besides, two asthikalash were taken to Delhi and Kanpur. One asthikalash reached Delhi on October 21 by the Jhelum Express and was kept at the central office of BMS in Paharganj where thousands of admirers of Thengadi will continue to pay their last respect till October 31. At 3 p.m. on October 31 the kalalsh will be kept at the condolence meeting to be held at the Constitution Club grounds. On the night of October 31, the kalash will be taken to Haridwar where it will be kept at the Karyakari Mandal meeting of RSS. The ashes will be immersed in the Ganga on November 1, 2004. The second asthikalash was taken to Kanpur where thousands of local people paid their tributes to the departed soul. Later it will be taken to Allahabad and will be immersed in the Sangam.
According to reports received from different parts of the country condolence meetings were held to pay tributes to Dattopant Thengadi. There are reports of holding such meetings in Delhi, Lucknow and Jaunpur.
His writings will guide us
?Atal Behari Vajpayee
I have had long association with Thengadiji. I was present in the Bhopal meeting in which the decision to form the BMS was taken. During the discussion to decide the name of the new organisation, Thengadiji had suggested the name Shramjivi Sangathan. The name Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh was coined keeping in view the fact that the name should be simple and meaningful. I feel trade unionism is facing a crisis today. We have before us two paths, one of these is on the way out. There is a need to find out the third one. Workers? interests should be protected but at the same time the nation'sinterest too must be borne in mind. The workers? movement is in a crisis and how to balance things in a changing scenario should be considered using the third way out, which was what Thengadi had been attempting. Whatever Thengadiji has written should be read by all of us. I feel it will guide us for long.
The news of Thengadi'sdeath shocked his admirers across the world and thousands of labourers, farmers, intellectuals, politicians and social workers reached Pune to pay their last respects to the departed soul. In the morning of October 15, thousands of people lined up to have last darshan of their beloved leader and guide. The mortal remains of Thengadiji were kept at the auditorium of new Marathishala in Pune. Though, Thengadiji was a bachelor and did not have any family, the large turnout of people at the Marathishala indicated that he was head of a larger family. There were his innumerable ?brothers? and ?sisters?, who regarded him as a fatherly figure and had received guidance from him. They were all consoling each other. The RSS Sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan and Sarkaryavah Mohan Bhagwat were present there throughout the day. Shri Ashok Singhal, working president of VHP, Shri Madandas, Sahsarkarayvah, Shri Hasubhai Dave, BMS president, Shri Muralidhar Rao, convenor of SJM and Shri Baba Takwale, general secretary of BKS were also present.
There was a long queue of people came to pay tributes to the famous trade union leader. At about 4 p.m., the departed leader'slast journey began from the auditorium and passing through prominent areas of Pune reached Baikunthadham where the last rites were performed.
I have had close relations with Dattopantji for the last 50 years. If one has to explain the personality of Dattopantji in one sentence, we can say that he was ?a dedicated Rashtrasevak.? He lived his whole life as a karmayogi. The work he took up he aimed it out with full responsibility. He established a wide network of friends without compromising on his views and ideology. His thinking was not confined to labourers or economic issues alone it involved the entire life of the nation and the world. His death is a personal loss to me. A strong pillar of our work is no more.
Thengadiji mostly used to stay at the residence of Shri S.N. Deshpande in Pune. During his last days also he was there. Shri Deshpande pointed out that Thengadiji was quite active till the last moment before his fall. ?He had complete control over his voice and mind. His memory was also quite sharp. Recently he had prepared an extensive book on Dr Ambedkar, which is yet to be released. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi and noted writer and thinker, C.P. Bhishikar had come to see him. Thengadiji had called the workers of Samajik Samarasta Manch on October 15 for an important discussion. No one had thought that he would leave us so soon. On October 14 he went for his usual bath. After having a bath, he suddenly sat down as though he was meditating. He was rushed to the hospital immediately. But he left for his heavenly abode,? Shri Deshpande said.
Condolence meeting in Delhi on October 31
As part of the countrywide condolence meetings by BMS to pay homage to Thengadiji, the Delhi unit will organise a condolence meeting in the ground of Constitution Club, Rafi Marg on October 31. Thousands of prominent personalities of Delhi belonging to different social and political organisations and trade unions will pay tribute to the noted thinker and trade union leader. The condolence meeting will begin at 3 p.m.
Sureshrao Ketkar (Akhil Bharatiya Sah-Pracharak Pramukh): We all are very sad on the demise of Thengadiji, the Sangh Pracharak belonging to the old generation of the Sangh and who had worked in close association of Dr Hedgewar. He was like the foundation stone to achieve a prestigious place for BMS, BKS, SJM, etc.
Ramanbhai Shah (organising secretary, BMS): Thengadiji was not only the founder of BMS but all in all. At the time when one-third of the world had turned red and certain people had been talking of hoisting the red flag on the rampant of Red Fort in Delhi, Thengadiji had predicted the decline of communism.
Messiah of poor and farmer
With the death of Dattopantji we all have become orphans. He was a messiah of poor and farmer. There are certain great personalities whose loss can never be filled. Dattopantji was a similar great personality. He had original thinking on all spheres of life. His mother and Shri Guruji were his guides. At the time when the country is facing onslaughts from all sides, the left by Dattopantji will be felt greatly.
P. Parmeshwaran (president, Vivekanand Kendra, Kayankumari): Dattopantji was one of the senior most Pracharaks of the Sangh. He achieved a prestigious place like Deendayal Upadhayay, Eknath Ranade, Nanaji Deshmukh, etc. He was not only a great thinker and scholar, but also a committed worker. He was a principled man who never compromised. The largest labour organisation, BMS, is an example of his practical idealism. At the time when all political organisations had a labour front, Thengadiji courageously created a unique labour organisation based on Indian values of life and kept it away from all political outfits. The success of BMS proves that India does not need any foreign ideology to create a nationalist movement. Thengadiji had close relations with Kerala. His guidance was a source of inspiration for all Sangh activists. It was Thengadiji who inspired us to form the Bharatiya Vichar Kendram.
R. Venugopal (organising secretary, BMS): It was 1942. Thengadiji used to deliver a baudhik on every Sunday. Needless to mention the topics were very difficult and it was not possible for us to understand them properly. Once he took me to a hotel and after ordering for breakfast, he started explaining me the concept of Hindu Rashtra. His explanation of Hindutva is still clear in my mind and heart.
Shri Krishnappa (Dakshin Kshetra Pracharak): Thengadiji was a powerful link between the old and the new generation of dedicated, powerful and leading generation of Hindu resurgence that is sweeping the country today. Whatever he spoke became a mantra for the workers. He was the rishi whose utterances have become catch phrases for the workers.