Dattopant Thengadi -The Mahatma of second freedom struggle
Dattopant Thengadi is the Guide-philosopher-friend who lead me to the path of swadeshi: KV Biju
Thengadji is the person who showed me the path of swadeshi. From childhood I have been reading the books and writings of Mahatma Ghandi ji. I was very much attracted towards Ghandhiji’ s philosophy of swaraj and his work for swadeshi from the very beginning. It exited me a lot. But never did I imagine and believe that one day swadeshi movement will come again into the social spectrum of contemporary India and that I will be its integral part. When I was a BA English student, it was and still is compulsory for students to read English news paper. One day I read the news regarding policy announcement made by the government. News report claimed that government was changing its economic policy, and it further said that they will open Indian market for multinational companies. In that news the comments of three important persons were also published. One of the three persons was comrade V.B.Cheriyan an important all India Leader of CITU. Second person whose statement accompanied the news published was Revered Dattopant Thengdi ji. The sum and substance of the statement of Thengdi ji was that these policies will adversely affect the economy of our country and enslave us politically. He had further added in his statement the resolve of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh to oppose the entry of these multinational corporations into the Indian market. Thengdi ji was focused in that statement explaining that we will fight in swadeshi way in the manner Ghandi ji did during the freedom struggle.
I met V.B.Cheriyan very next day and discussed the issue with him. I also contacted our Zilla precharak and shared with him my desire to meet Thengdi ji. Zilla Pracharak ji promised me to arrange the meeting as and when it was possible. This was the time when I had started developing interest in the Economic issues.
Few days later same Zilla Pracharak ji approached me and conveyed the good news that Thengdi ji was coming to Ernakulam for a Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh program. I was thrilled to receive this message. Later when Dattopant ji came to the city I went to the Sangha Karyalaya to meet him. I was very much impressed by his simple and serene personality.
I asked him about the new economic policy. Thengdi ji not only gave me enough time to discuss but explained several aspects of economy in easy and beautiful manner. Perhaps encouraged by the curiosity of a young man about such important national issues he told me that he was going to Thrissur for a meeting with an Economist of repute. He asked me to come to Thrissur. I was extremely overjoyed. Without any second thought I reached Thrissur early next morning. There I found President of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh sh.Sajinarayan ji and Sankaranarayan ji is waiting for me. It was another pleasant surprise for me. We accompanied Revered Dattopant Thengdi ji to that economist’s house. The economist was Dr.M.Mohandas. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch later published one of his books titled Resource Crunch Trap.
The discussion was revolving round the new economic policy. Thengidi ji asked Dr.M.Mohandas to prepare a note on this subject. From there we went to Kochi. In Kochi Thengdi ji met another economist Dr.Murali. In this meeting came the issue of Thengidi ji meeting Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer. Whether Thengidiji met Krshna Iyer ji then at that time I don’t know. But during this interaction with Thengadi ji I found him a great man. His living was so simple, but his knowledge and understanding of issues was unparallel. Anyone who who got any chance of meeting him was impressed. I was no exception. That close interaction had a lasting impact on me.
Later in a personal discussion Sajinarayan ji told me that they are going to Nagpur to attend a meeting to form a new organisation. I was not able to follow the track. Because of my studies. I became associated with ABVP. Even though my interest in economy and issue related to it continued, I was not directly involved with SJM. I met Thengidiji in Ernakulam in 1994 after a gap of few years. That time I had became a full timer of Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Thengidiji was very happy to see me as a full timer. He expressed his pleasure openly and told me to study economic issues, a little deeply.
In due course I became part of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch. When I attended my first Swadeshi Jagaran Manch conference in 1999 I told Thengidiji that Now was a SJM full timer. I touched his feet and asked for his blessings. Reply of Thengdi ji was touching and inspiring. He said to me, “I am not a God to bless you, God will bless you and I will give you GOOD WISHES( Ashirwad)”. I was so impressed. People usually are happy and delighted to see others touching their feet and seeking blessings. Even aged people touch the feet of powerful persons of younger age and no one objects. Here was Thengadi ji who was like a saint and yet he prevented me from touching his feet. It was an emotional movement for me. One coworker commented humrously that Biju is an atheist. Trying to indicate that I did not believe in Blessings of God. On hearing this Thengidiji laughed. It was an heartful innocent laugh. Thengdi ji looked towards me affectionately and said OK in that case I will Bless you. I can never forget that moment. It was overwhelming. The relation then onwards continued till he departed from this world. Many times I wrote letters to Thengidiji. I always got good advices suited for that occasion.
He was so caringly close to all workers. There was no barrier of fear or apprehension of being rejected, overlooked or ignored. Anyone could contact him and he was there like a family head.
Dattopant Thengdi, as we all are aware, was capable impressing anybody. Even his political and ideological opponents were impressed by his devotion and knowledge. The much attracted qualities. Thengidiji was his simplicity and eagerness to study and make public opinion regarding the national issues of vital importance that were normally unnoticed by others . When Thengidiji was alive he wrote books and articles about the current affairs that formulated not only the policy of Sangha Pariwar policy but also affected the thinking of people beyond the reach of Sangh Parivar organisations.
It is not surprising that we find a number of people in whole India who admired Dattopant ji Thengdi.In a personal talk Justice V.R.KRISHNA IYER told us once that Thengidiji was the Mahatma of second freedom struggle. Yes Thengidiji is our another Mahatma, we shall try to follow his steps. Our Salutes to the Rashtra Rishi.