Intro: November 10 is the birth anniversary of Dattopant Bapurao Thengadi, the founder of country’s largest labour organisation the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. Recognising his contribution to the nation Justice VR Krishna Iyer had called him ‘The Mahatma of Second Freedom Struggle’.
Thengadiji refused Padma Bhushan Award. He was unwilling to be Vice Chairmen of the Rajya Sabha during Janata Party rule in 1978. He declined many other such offers. Though capable of providing efficient leadership at highest level he never sought after posts. His was a rare personality, who shuned ceremonials, showering of praise and such other popular gimmicks, which many of the present day leaders display.
Thengadiji was ahead of his time. “Time horizon of a politician is of five years, that of a statesmen is a decade and that of a seer is 100 years,” he said. After returning from Soviet Russia in 1967 he declared, “Communism is in reverse gear in Russia”. During Ajay Mukherjee and Jyoti Basu’s rule in West Bengal in 1969-70 due to widespread violence people used to remain inside their houses after evening. During that time the Working Committee meeting of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) was held in Kolkata where one bomb was thrown at the venue of the meeting. Next day, in a public meeting Thengadiji challenged the CPM to dare touch any activists of the BMS in West Bengal and invited retaliation throughout India. Since then the BMS activists were never attacked.
It was in the month of May that Thengadiji arrived at his residence at 57, South Avenue, New Delhi. He left for Parliament to attend the session. At noon he came back and asked me to accompany him. In scorching heat we made a round trip of South Avenue. Thengadiji stopped in front of a thatched house, the man came out touched his feet, he was his cobbler. Then we proceeded and met another man, he was his washerman, and further we moved to meet the barbar and so on till we encircle South Avenue. He was to leave for Nagpur by Paschim Express by 3.00 pm, so we rushed to the railway station. Returning to South Avenue I met two Professors who enquired whether Thengadiji read their thesis titled “Anasakta Yoga vs. Dialectical Materialism” the copy of which was on Thengadiji’s table.
In 1975, Thengadiji took charge of Lok Sangharash Samiti to fight against Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. On September 9, 1975 we met him in Kolkata. Thengadiji said within 17 months this government would come to a grinding halt. Exactly, in 17 months Indira Gandhi’s regime collapsed in February 1978.
He was opposed to forward trading, derivative trade and stock exchanges. The existing system derived from Western countries will not usher in economic development based on fair competition without exploitation, he said. National commitment should be factored into collective bargaining and labour should be treated as capital according to him. Thengadiji was a living embodiment of Sangh Pracharak who acquired attributes of Astanga Yoga through dedication to Sangh (RSS) ideals (Dheya Samarpita). Such persons who adhere to disciplines for years together acquire Yogic power like increasing memory power etc. according to Sri Ram Krishna Paramhansa.
Thengadiji was a seer in true sense.
Saroj Kumar Mitra (The writer is National Co-convener of Swadeshi Jagran Manch)