Thengadi Ji’s outstanding contribution to the nation building was to liberate the labour field from clutches of left forces that were advancing towards the red fort riding on red chariot driven by the ‘revolutionary’ red horses.
Born on Deepawali, Nov 10, 1920 at Aarvi, in Wardha district of Vidarbh region in Maharashtra, Dattaatreya Bhapurao Thengadi alias ‘Dattopant Thengadi’ completed his matriculation from the home town and joined Mauris College at Nagpur. He was a Brilliant student and always a class topper. After completing his graduation in law, he became a Pracharak of the RSS in 1942 and consolidated Sangh Shakha work in Kerala and later in Bengal till 1949. After returning to Nagpur, he played his role in various capacities in Jan Sangh, Vidhayaarthi Parishad and later in the INTUC to gain experience in the working of Trade Unions. Thereafter, he formed the BMS and never looked back. Subsequently, he also formed other National Organisations like Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Sarva Panth Samadar Manch etc and strengthened the patriotic forces in the country.
|Nationalise the labour, labourise the industry & industrialise the country. —Dattopant Thengadi
He was a Member of Parliament for 12 years from 1964 to 1976. All his allowances were spent on organisational work. He was penniless. Two Kurtas, two Dhoties and a small brief case was his only property. He even gave up all his rights to ancestral property by making a lease deed. For him, the entire universe was his family. Once R Balashankar (former editor of Organiser) asked Shri P Parameswaran, one of the senior most Pracharaks, if he could describe a Jivanmukta as in the Bhagavad Gita, he replied Thengadi Ji is a living example. Despite of all his Godly virtues and outstanding skills Dattopant had a lovely weakness, wrote KR Malkani and that was a cup of tea.
Param Poojneeya Shri Guruji, the then RSS Sarsanghachalak in a meeting at Thane (1972) said that when RSS karyakartas thought of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh to function independently in labour field then this work was entrusted to Dattopant Thengadi ji. He worked very hard. There may be some sympathy and support from our Karyakaratas but he did his job single handedly. Now the BMS has gained strength and standing in the labour field as a force to reckon with.
Movement without Political Power
The founder of organisations Dattopant Thengadi, who founded many organisations like Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Bharatiya Kissan Sangh (BKS), Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) and many other never occupied power positions. Selflessly he lit a light of nation building in the hearts of countless Karyakrtas and created the magic of building series organisations. He was elected first General Secretary of the BMS in 1967, but relinquished the same in 1975 for a bigger cause, when the emergency was clamped in the country. He was appointed Secretary of Lok Sangharash Samiti by Shri Jaiprakash Narayan after Nana ji Deshmukh and Ravinder Varma were arrested under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). Thengadi ji went underground to avoid arrest for leading the movement against the emergency.
Thengadi ji organised the movement successfully and he was instrumental in formation of the Janta Party. From 1975 to 1977 he remained in close touch with leaders of Lok Dal, Cong (O), Socialists, Akalis and many others like Chandra Shekhar, Dr Subramanian Swamy, Charan Singh, Morar ji Desai, VM Tarkunde, George Fernandes, Mohan Dharaia, Madhu Limaye, Krishna Kant, Surender Mohan, the Akalis and the left leaders to get their support in organising the movement for restoration of democracy. Of course, this was happening with the full support and guidance of RSS.
In 1977, when democracy was restored and under Prime Ministership of Shri Morarji Desai the new Janta Government took the charge, Thengadi ji moved away from politics concentrating again on the BMS Working.
It is learnt that there was murmuring in the power corridors that Morar ji Desai had liking for Thengadi ji for including him in the council of Ministers as Labour Minister, but non-political role of Thengadi ji was well known to everyone. Even Chandra Shekhar the then President of the Janta Party offered recognition and other related privileges to the BMS to maintain a good relation with ruling party like the INTUC had with the Congress. Since Thengadi ji always maintained that the mass organisations should be above the party politics so the offer was not accepted.
The attractions and opportunities above were ignored by Thengadi ji who never compromised on principles. He did not mix politics or religion in the trade union. He proved it again during the regime of the NDA Government at the Centre headed by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. He used to say “Ham Pagal Hein (We are a lot of mad people) and elaborated that this madness is for the motherland, to wipe out tears from the eyes of the man unto the last. So we prefer to remain Pagal to fulfill above commitments”.
Dr Subramanian Swamy has written that popularly I am known as hero of the emergency but the real hero was Dattopant Thengadi and Madhav Rao Mule. Thengadi ji was my source of inspiration and guide philosopher, who did great work to confront emergency. This great work alone is enough to position Dattopant in the category of legendary great man but it is painful to see that our country is still unaware of this great work done by him.
Skills in Orgaisation Building
Thengadi ji’s outstanding contribution to the nation building was to liberate the labour field from clutches of left forces that were advancing towards the red fort riding on red chariot driven by the ‘revolutionary’ red horses. Communism was at its peak. It was at that time that at the call of Rashtra Shakti, Thengadi ji formed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh on July 23, 1955 at Bhopal from zero. At the time of formation there was no union, no Karyakarta, no Karyalya, no fund still he pledged for creating Shrishti (universe) out of Shunya (zero). He had the unflinching faith on victory of truth, Bharatiya culture and natural justice.
He possessed tremendous organisational qualities. Within a short span of 35 years, since its formation, the BMS occupied top position in the country leaving behind all other mighty Labour Organisations including the communist organisations. He declared that the BMS is of the workers, by the workers, for the workers free from party politics, individual leadership and owners of the industry. He said nationalise the labour, labourise the industry & industrialise the country. He believed firmly in swadeshi and wanted to decentralise the industry by promoting the cottage industry thereby providing job to every hand. He wanted investment in agriculture and agro industries. He supported public sector strongly and stood for strengthening of Vishwakarma, the self employed sector. He united workers of unorganised sector facing worst kind of exploitation and in- justice.
Thengadi ji said that westernisation is not modernisation. He opposed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and multinationals. He was of the view that our country is blessed with enormous natural resources. Therefore, under disguise of globalisation the affluent countries of West, wanted to tap our resources to maintain their pace of development and prosperity. Thengadi Ji declared second war of economic independence and stood firmly against liberalisation policy of Dr Manmohan Singh Govt. under the diktat from WTO and World Bank. Hundreds of Workers rallies were organised throughout the country to oppose the policy of liberlisation and Thengadi ji himself addressed huge rallies in Delhi at the Red Fort and the Ram Lila Ground.
A Visionary Thinker
The great visionary as he was, Thengadi ji said in 1984 at Indore, the interest of workers is identical (Ekatam) to the interest of the nation. So long the nation (Rashtra) is standing Worker cannot fall dawn. If nation fell down who will save the workers. Similarly, so long the worker is standing he will not let the nation fall, but if Mazdoor fell down who will save the nation. He had a full faith on Basic Patriotic character of the workers who had been driven away from nationalisation by the anti-national and leftist forces.
Thengadi ji thus started exposing communism. First he replaced their slogans like ‘Workers of the World unite’ to ‘Workers unite the world’, ‘Inquilab’ (Revolution) by ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. “Maang hamari puri ho chahe jo mujboori ho” (Whatever may be the compulsions, our demands should be fulfilled) by ‘Desh ke hit mein Kareinge kaam-Kaam ke lengey purey daam’ (We will work in the national interest and claim the full remuneration against it). Instead of red flag Thengadi ji hoisted saffron flag and introduced ‘Vishwakarma Jyanti’ as National Labour Day. He rejected ‘Have & Have not class conflict theory of communism lock, stock and barrel. Instead he introduced class collaboration a policy of co-existence and struggle against injustice and inequality.
He studied communism deeply and said that ideology based on materialism is unsustainable and bound to vanish because of its inherent contradictions. He had high regards for Karl Marx but proved him wrong on many points since many of him forecastes did not come true. Karl Marx was not an original thinker as he borrowed ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ from Belinski. ‘Workers have no Country’ from Mauret and ‘workers! You have nothing to lose except your shackles of slavery’ and ‘Workers of World unite’ from Mauret and Karl Shaper. Even the revolution the way, Marx envisaged, never Happened. The Thinkers like Antanio Gramsci and even Mao argued that most of Marx’s predictions have failed. In 1898, after thirty one years of publication of ‘Das Kapital’, Engels a well known Marxist wrote that time has proved thinkers like us (including Marx) wrong.
In Bharat, Thengadi ji announced unambiguously in 1970 at Kanpur that communism-Marxism is going to collapse before the end of 1989. Even USSR will also wither away by that time. Both of his his forecasts turned out to be true. He further forecasted that imperialism will also decline by 2010 which we are witnessing today. During Dr Hedgewar, birth centenary year in 1989 he declared while addressing a congregation of Pracharks at Nagpur that “standing in front of this small ‘Pratikriti’ (Replica) of Hindu Rashtra and taking in view the national/international events and based on hard realities, I can say that in the next century that is when sunrises in 2001, then Suryanarayan will be pleased to see that before the end of 20th century in the economic field of Bharat all flags from red to pink and dark red have dissolved in Hindu Rashtrta Sanatan Bhagwa Dhwaj”. This prediction has also come true.
During his visit to Russia alongwith Parliamentary delegation in 1968 the veteran communist leader Hiren Mukherjee said “Thengadi! You have found your place in the universe. I have not.” Thengadi ji once said ‘I would prefer to remain a small stone dug and pressed in the foundation of our great national edifice’.
On his 95th birthday-November10, we pledge to adhere and follow his footsteps and rededicate ourselves in the service of our great mother land to restore its past glory by creating free, fearless samras samaj fully developed to realise the dream of Shradheya Dattopanat Thengadi.
Amar Nath Dogra (The writer is Former Vice-President of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh)