From being censured for “bad conduct” in a convent school, to eloping with his lover and getting married using fake witnesses, an upcoming authorised biography of Goa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Vinay Tendulkar candidly spotlights the saffron leader, who’s now in the reckoning for chief ministership in the wake of incumbent Manohar Parrikar’s prolonged illness.
Authored by a former journalist and poet Sanjiv Verenkar, a close friend of Tendulkar, the biography, “Dabhal to Delhi”, chronicles the life of the Rajya Sabha MP, from a rural hamlet of Dabhal in South Goa to the national capital.
The book, written in Konkani, speaks about his humble origins as a son of a charity-prone grocer, as well as his early association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which triggered a crisis of sorts ahead of his class 10 examinations.
Fr. Cyril Mascarenhas, principal of the Immaculate Conception Convent where he was studying, refused to give Tendulkar the prescribed eligibility form to answer the crucial Board examinations, which the BJP MP claims was on account of his association with the RSS.
“Tendulkar insists, that the convent school denied him the form because of his RSS links, but the principal maintained that he had failed in physical training,” the book states. The incident created a state-wide furore back then, but eventually the school retreated on its position and a PT re-test saw Tendulkar pass with an A+ grade.
The book also speaks liberally about Tendulkar’s romance with his wife-to-be Pratibha, whose house Tendulkar would keep circling around on a Bajaj Chetak scooter. However, opposition to his overtures by her parents, over caste differences, stalled any further progress, until Tendulkar on Nagpanchami day eloped with her and married her subsequently in the presence of fake relatives at a remote village temple.
The biography also focusess on Tendulkar’s grit and determination to succeed. A young Tendulkar tried his hand at a whole range of businesses, while being employed with the Dempo Group of companies.
To begin with, he took over the running of a mining company’s canteen, then a small market cafe, a two-wheeler garage, vegetable trading and even hawking “kanna”, traditional moong porridge, outside temple theatre performances.
But it was his stint at running a canteen for mine workers in Kirlapal village, which helped him network with people and served as a stepping stone for his political activity, Verenkar says in his book.
“A mining canteen is not just about food. It was a place for drivers, labourers, workers to gossip and bond with each other. Novels can be written about the goings-on in a mining canteen… In reality, Vinay’s political career started with his stint at running canteen, where he interacted with people from all walks of life,” the book states.
Verenkar says that the senior BJP leader also acted in a tiatr, a theatre form popular among Goa’s Catholics, where finding an RSS worker as an actor is rare.
The biography also speaks of Tendulkar’s close ties with politicians across party ranks, including current leader of opposition Congressman Chandrakant Kavlekar and former Chief Minister and Congressman Francisco Sardinha, who the BJP leader still bonds with.
“After he became Rajya Sabha MP, Vinay and Sardinha were returning from Delhi via the same flight. At Goa’s Dabolim airport, Vinay saw Sardinha lugging two bags. Despite Sardinha’s resistance, Vinay grabbed one bag from him to lighten his load and walked along with the former CM,” the book says.
The biography also recounts how the “polite and unassuming” BJP leader had, in the past, willingly sacrificed his ministerial berth, as well as an assembly election ticket, always playing a willing loyalist.
However, one would need to wait and see what role the loyalist would be offered in the current political clime, when the Goa BJP is beginning to look at life after a colossus called Manohar Parrikar.