In the month of January 1990 ALL INDIA CONFERENCE of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat was held in Patna Sahib Patna. Takht Shri Harimandir Sahib Ji is situated in this city. Revered Dattopant Thengadi was in the city to participate in this conference. After Conference concluded Thengadi ji had to board the Train at Patna railway station for his return journey. Since there was sufficient time in between, his lunch and rest was planned accordingly. Dattopant ji had lunch at the residence of the then President of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh unit of Bihar state, Sh. Ramdev Prasad ji. I providentially got opportunity to be present and get the benefit of being in the benevolent company of such a great personality. We were having a chat after lunch. The subjects discussed naturally were contemporary and of national importance.

During the discussion the issue of The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) also cropped up. The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) or CPI(ML) was formed by the All India Coordination Committee of ‘Communist Revolutionaries’ at a congress in Calcutta in 1969. The foundation of the party was declared by Kanu Sanyal at a mass-meeting in Calcutta on the birth day of Lenin that is 22nd of April.

CPI (ML) advocated armed revolution and denounced participation in the electoral process. The party leaders belonged to the left-wing within Communist Party of India (Marxist) in northern West Bengal. They had mobilized a revolutionary peasants movement in Naxalbari, which evolved into an armed uprising of the mostly Santhal tribal inhabitants. CPI(ML) saw Naxalbari as the spark that would start a new Indian revolution and the movement came to be known as ‘naxalites’ and continues to be a major problem for the country even at present though in different format. In several parts of India, for example Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, different parts of West Bengal and in Srikakulam in northern Andhra Pradesh CPI(ML) organized guerilla units. The party got support from China, which actively encouraged the attempts of CPI (ML) to launch armed rebellion.

Dattopant Thengadi ji asked me to collect some literature of (Marxist- Lennist) and arrange its delivery to him. He was of the view that these people are demonstrating an urge to effect change. They can be useful in social transformation. It was clear from his expression that he was looking beyond the visible appearance of these left wing extremists. His statesmanship and nationalist approach urged him to see possible good in even outlaws.

Ram dev ji agreed and added that these people were becoming effective and were gaining strength with every passing day.

These CPI(ML) people had actually formed a Political front by the name of Indian People’s front (IPF). IPF had contested state Assembly election and several of its candidates had returned victorious as MP & MLA’s.

The Indian People’s Front as a political organisation was active between 1982 and 1994. It functioned as an open, mass front of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, and contested national & state elections.

IPF won a Lok Sabha seat from western Bihar, the Arrah constituency, in the 1989 parliamentary election. Rameshwar Prasad was the IPF parliamentarian from Arrah. In 1990 the organisation was able to win seven seats in the Bihar legislative assembly. So it was seen by ordinary people as an emerging force.

Ram dev ji shared the information regarding elections by telling Thengadi Ji that 7 MLA’s of IPF have won elections in the then held assembly election. On hearing this Thengadi Ji was surprised and spontaneously asked “what” as if to confirm what he had heard.

Thengadiji continued in that inquisitive manner. So have these people also decided to fight elections and their MLA s are now in state legislative? The moment Ramdev ji consented affirmatively Thengadi Ji turned towards me and commented philosophically when they have decided to join the politics of Power & election no purpose will be served by studying their literature. So do not collect or send their literature to me. It will be wastage of time and energy. These people cannot be instruments of social Transformation. Their strength will finish slowly.

Today IPF is no where. Not a Single MLA is there in Assembly who would claim to represent the ideology or Party. The words of Danttopant Ji come to my mind frequently. How deep was his understanding? How basic was his thinking? Such a foresight and complete communion with Indian Tradition of knowing that state Power and Politics can’t be foundation of social change. Expecting it is useless.

Farsighted statements of Dattopant Thengdi stated in a casual and seemingly insignificant conversation was loaded with his personal practice, familiarity with history, vast experience and undiluted commitment to the all-round development of the nation.

The incident demonstrates that the people who were considered to be out laws were acceptable to him as instruments of change but after finding their indulgence in electoral politics and temptation for power Dattopant ji considered them to be worthless.

Arun Ojha (National Convenor of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch)