Chapter 21: Here is the story how Thengadi ji managed to bring the spirit of nationalism in the labour union.
This year marks the birth centenary of Shri Dattopant Thengadi.
Rashtrarishi Dattopant Thengadi was a visionary architect, who worked against time and moulded the future of workers and labourers according to his vision..
Dr Hedgewar and Narendra Bhattacharya were active members of a revolutionary organisation called Anusilan Samiti in Kolkata during 1905-1950. Narendra Bhattacharya went to Batavia to collect information about German ship carrying arms ammunition for Indian revolutionaries reaching the coast of Balasore in Odisha which was leaked and Baga Jatin along with his colleagues were martyred in a battle with armed forces of the British government at Chasakhand near Balasore.
Narendra Bhattacharya left India as police were after him and reached Soviet Russia changing his name as MN Roy. MN Roy founded Communist Party of India at Tashkent in 1920. This was the philosophy which Thengadi ji totally opposed.
Dr Hedgewar initiated RSS at Nagpur in 1925. Dr Hedgewar’s worldview was based on the Hindu concept on Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Thengadi ji joined RSS and became its pracharak in 1942. Thengadi ji created BMS, BKS, SJM etc. with a roadmap.
Thengadi ji was a Rarest of rare personality having mastery over dialectical materialism, he was a living embodiment of Anashakta Yoga.
He took charge of Loksangharsh Samiti created by Jaiprakash Narayan in 1975 and launched a movement against the emergency regime of Indira Gandhi till she was defeated in 1977 general election.
He did not accept any post in the government of Morarji Desai though on his advice Jan Sangh was merged in Janta Party. He refused to accept Padmavibhushan title later on.
Thangadi ji Authored more than hundred books on various topics, his inspiring and thought-provoking titles like “Karyakarta”, “Third Way”, “On Revolution” and “Prefaces in Hindu Economics” are extremely popular.
Born on November 10, 1920, at Arvi in Maharashtra Thengadi joined RSS as pracharak in 1942, worked in Kerala and later in Bengal. He also worked for Dr Ambedkar and formed Adim Jati Sangh. He was member Rajya Sabha for two terms.
Some of the hallmark qualities of his lifestyle were, simple living, in-depth study, deep thinking, clarity of thought, courage of the conviction and missionary zeal for the goal.
He was a lawyer as well as a philosopher, and displayed an early talent for administration. At the age of 15, he served as president of the ‘Vanar Sena’ as well as the Municipal High School student union at Arvi.
He actively took part in India’s Freedom Movement and was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) from 1936-38. He worked as organizing secretary of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from 1950–51, and was also associated with the Postal & Railway Workers Union.
He was profoundly influenced by Shri Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar, popularly known as Guru Ji, and some of the other towering figures of the time who influenced his persona were- Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya.
He always kept pace with time and he maintained the core philosophy of Hindu Dharma and Bhartiya Darshan even when he established various organizations in different spheres.
Founder of Organisations:
Thengadi ji founded, nurtured and energized some of the well-known organizations of today: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (1955), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (1979), Swadeshi Jagran Manch (1991), Samajik Samarasata Manch, Sarva- panth Samadar Manch and Paryavaran Manch, he was also a founder member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat and Bharatiya Vichara Kendra.
In fact, Thengadi created BMS and BKS in the mid-50s when these movements were captured by Marxists in India. The most famous slogan among the labourers and peasants was “Lal Kile pe Lal Nishan, maang raha hai Hindustan” (translation from Hindi means ‘India wants to see the red sign at Red Fort’).
This was the time when Naxalism was also finding its roots among these two segments. He brought in the concept of class coordination and cooperation nullifying the Marxist idea of class struggle.
Thengadi’s philosophy pushed that the fight is against injustice and not against any class. He brought RSS’s core idea of nationalism among workers and farmers. Today, both BMS and BKS are amongst the largest unions of workers and farmers, respectively across the globe.
He described swadeshi economy through four features –
- one with free competition without manipulated market,
- where movement is towards equitability and equality,
- where nature is milked but not ravaged, and
- where there is self-employment and not wage employment.
He always fought against economic inequality and opposed social inequality at every level. He worked with Dr B R Ambedkar during the Lok Sabha election in Bhandara, Maharashtra and understood his feelings both towards the marginalised sections of society and nationalism. On 14 April 1983, he established the Samajik Samrasta Manch (Social Harmony Forum) on the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. Ambedkar Aur Samajik Kranti (Ambedkar and Social Revolution) was his last book where he elaborated the idea of social justice and nationalism propounded by Babasaheb.
He was of the firm view that national rejuvenation is possible only through people who strongly believe in the traditional knowledge system of India.
His work along with the framework (Integral Humanism & Antodayay) drafted by Deendayal Upadhyay underlines the economic philosophy of RSS and its affiliates. This is precisely different from the capitalism of the western world and the communism of China and Russia. Thengadi called it the Third Way.
Thengadi wanted to free the labour movement from the clutches of the Left that looked to the then USSR and China for inspiration. So he gave the slogan – Lal gulami chhod ker, bolo Vandematram. (Leave Red
If it was not for his efforts the working class of India would have been mobilized by the Marxist to act against the society against our constitution.
He left for his heavenly abode on October 2004 via Mahanirvaan. Great personalities of India and world gave him tribute.
Modi government’s idea of providing universal healthcare, energy access to all, poverty elevation plans (based on empowerment, not entitlements) all find their roots in Thengadi’s ideas. His ideas also come closer to Modi government’s method of disinvestments: where most of the PSUs are listed in the stock market rather than strategically sold to corporate houses.
A great scholar, organiser and a greater leader and activist, Thengadi walked the path that none before him had taken. Over the years he became a huge source of inspiration for millions of activists striving for the welfare of workers and peasants.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth