Lecture Note : Bangabandhu and Bangladesh

 

Bangabandhu Sheik Mujibur Rahman was born on March 17, 1920, in Tongipara village in the Gopalganj subdivision of the Faridpur district in the eastern part of the province of Bengal in British India. An extroverted, sports-loving young man, Bangabandhu was well liked by his teachers and friends, but never distinguished himself in his studies. To the dismay of his father, a small landholder (Sheik is one of the titles often assumed by the landed gentry) and a government official, Bangabandhu showed the first sign of his future revolutionary leadership by distributing rice from his father’s stockpile to the famine-stricken peasantry of his area.

 

His political life began as a humble worker while he was still a student. He was fortunate to come in early contact with such towering personalities as Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and A K Fazlul Huq, both charismatic Chief Ministers of undivided Bengal. Adolescent Sheikh Mujib grew up under the gathering gloom of stormy politics as the aging British raj in India was falling apart and the Second World War was violently rocking the continents. He witnessed the ravages of the war and the stark realities of the great famine of 1943 in which about five million people lost their lives. The tragic plight of the people under colonial rule turned young Sheikh Mujib into a rebel.

 

This was also the time when he saw the legendary revolutionary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose challenging the British raj. Also about this time he came to know the works of Bernard Shaw, Karl Marx, Rabindranath Tagore and rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Soon after the partition of India in 1947 it was felt that the creation of Pakistan with its two wings separated by a physical distance of about 1,200 miles was a geographical monstrosity. The economic, political, cultural and linguistic characters of the two wings were also different. Keeping the two wings together under the forced bonds of a single state structure in the name of religious nationalism would merely result in a rigid political control and economic exploitation of the eastern wing by the all-powerful western wing which controlled the country’s capital and its economic and military might.

 

In 1948 a movement was initiated to make Bengali one of the state languages of Pakistan. This can be termed the first stirrings of the movement for an independent Bangladesh. The demand for cultural freedom gradually led to the demand for national independence. During that language movement Sheikh Mujib was arrested and sent to jail. During the blood-drenched language movement in 1952 he was again arrested and this time he provided inspiring leadership of the movement from inside the jail.

 

In 1954 Sheikh Mujib was elected a member of the then East Pakistan Assembly. He joined A. K. Fazlul Huq’s Jukta Front Cabinet as the youngest minister. The ruling clique of Pakistan soon dissolved this government and Shiekh Mujib was once again thrown into prison. In 1955 he was elected a member of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly and was again made a minister when the Awami League formed the provincial government in 1956. Soon after General Ayub Khan staged a military coup in Pakistan in 1958, Sheikh Mujib was arrested once again and a number of cases were instituted against him. He was released after 14 months in prison but was re-arrested in February 1962. In fact, he spent the best part of his youth behind the prison bars.

 

 

Forced by international pressure and the imperatives of its own domestic predicament, Pakistan was obliged to release Sheikh Mujib from its jail soon after the liberation of Bangladesh and on 10 January 1972 the great leader returned to his beloved land and his admiring nation.

 

But as he saw the plight of the country his heart bled and he knew that there would be no moment of rest for him. Almost the entire nation including about ten million people returning from their refuge in India had to be rehabilitated, the shattered economy needed to be put back on the rail, the infrastructure had to be rebuilt, millions had to be saved from starvation and law and order had to be restored. Simultaneously, a new constitution had to be framed, a new parliament had to be elected and democratic institutions had to be put in place. Any ordinary mortal would break down under the pressure of such formidable tasks that needed to be addressed on top priority basis. Although simple at heart, Sheikh Mujib was a man of cool nerves and of great strength of mind. Under his charismatic leadership the country soon began moving on to the road to progress and the people found their long-cherished hopes and aspirations being gradually realized.

 

He is well criticized for the formation of Banghladesh Krishok Shramik League (BAKSAL) after the abolition of cabinet governmental system by the fourth amendment of constitution on 25th January 1975. On 24 February, Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, comprising all the political parties of the country, was formed. On February 25, Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called upon all political parties and leaders to join this national party. He felt the need for making Bangladesh a self-reliant nation by reducing dependence on foreign aid. So he overhauled the economic policies to achieve the goal of self-reliance, He launched the Second Revolution to make independence meaningful and ensure food, clothing, shelter, medicare, education and work to the people. The objectives of the revolution were: elimination of corruption, boosting production in mills, factories and fields, population control and establishment of national unity. But there is very little expert analysis on BAKSAL. We just criticize it only for criticism but not for an analysis eye.

 

The pro Chinese minded communist groups and Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) started armed campaign against newly formed state and killed many leaders and activists of ruling party. The Army men were not satisfied to form a new paramilitary force namely “Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini”. Providing two grade promotions among officers and soldiers who participated in freedom fight made discrimination in Army that was why he lost his popularity toward Army.

 

 

 

 

On the night of August 15, 1975, a group of wayward army officers assassinated Bangabandhu and all of his family members except the two daughters. This brutal assassination not only put an indelible smuggle in the newborn nation’s history, but led the country into a political vacuum. Democracy started fading away and the reconstruction process suffered a major setback.

 

Actually, his name was abandoned in Bangladesh from 1975 to 1996 in all types of government agencies and they tried to their best to defame Bangabandhu in any way. The Killers were awarded and promoted to establish them in politics and other sectors. It was how much regretted that the founder of Bangladesh was absent state mechanism and this mechanism protected killers by the amendment of constitution.

 

Bangabandhu is not above criticism, as an administrator he has many failures but it is fact that he is father of nation. Awami league still use him and make slogan of his name against other political parties as well as think that he is only its property. That is why; other political parties get a chance to defame the personality of Bangabandhu and his political philosophy. It is also mentionable that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was established in 1978 after three years death of the death of him. There was no necessary for BNP to exercise the politics against Banganandhu but this party did it. Ziaur Rahman mainly created BNP with pro Pakistani minded people who opposed the freedom fight and leftist politicians who are pro Chinese minded and they traditionally opposed Awami League and Bangabandhu.

 

Though it is late, gradually he is placed his position among ours. Begum Khaleda Zia, chairperson of BNP, has to postpone her birth day celebration on 15th August. This is not so far when all political parties will respect him. We have to notify that other national leaders should not be discriminated by us through showing respect toward Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahaman.

 

The Father of the nation Bangabndhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not a mere individual. He is an institution, a movement, a revolution, an upsurge. He is the architect of a nation. He is the essence of an epic poetry and he himself is the history.  The Newsweek Magazine dedicated its cover page on April 5, 1971 to Bangabandhu and described him as a “Poet of Politics” Fidel Castro; reflect the height of respect Bangabandhu commanded, internationally. He said “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas”. The Time Magazine on January 17, 1972 wrote “the history of the Indian sub-continent for the past half-century has been dominated by leaders who were as controversial as they were charismatic: Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru. Another name now seems likely to join the list: Sheikh Mujibur (“Mujib”) Rahman, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Even his detractors concede that Mujib has the personal qualifications to become an extremely effective popular leader”.

 

Speaker : Kaium Ahmed 

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