Return of a Radiant Star: Pranab Kumar Panday

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Published on January 10, 2019
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The contribution of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the emergence of an independent Bangladesh is beyond explanation. It was his strong, dedicated and visionary leadership that inspired the people of East Pakistan to stand against the oppression of the Pakistani junta and fight for the independence of the country. Considering Bangabandhu as their main enemy, the Pakistani junta tried a fake trial and awarded him a death sentence. But, they could not execute the death sentence because of the vehement criticism of the world leaders who created pressure on them to step back from their decision to execute him.

Now a pertinent question is why the Pakistani government was so concerned about Bangabandhu? To be honest, he had the power to influence the people and mould them in any direction. This was found true when Bangabandhu through his 7th March speech declared that "Ebarer Sangram Aamader Muktir Sangram, Ebarer Sangram Swadhinatar Sangram (This struggle is for our freedom, this struggle is for our independence)". His 7th March speech changed the whole course of people’s movement. Being influenced by his speech the people of Bangladesh got engaged in the War of Liberation against the Pakistani Bahini. That is why the Pakistani junta considered him the most important enemy.

Considering the future consequences of executing the death sentence of Bangabandhu, the Pakistani Military junta stepped back from their decision and freed him from the Pakistani jail. Coming out from the black episode of nine-month long captivity in the prison, Bangabandhu set foot on his adoring land through London and New Delhi. The whole nation was jubilant to hear the news of Bangabandhu's return. More than half a million of people were passionately waiting at the Racecourse Maidan on the 10thof January to listen to the voice of their hero for the first time since March 1971 in the winter evening. While addressing the huge audience, he was full of emotion having tears in his eyes. But, he came out from the emotion within a very short time and started delivering his original expression. He was greeted by the whole nation through ‘Joy Bangla'.
The 10th January is one of the most important events in the history of Bangladesh as like as the 7th March (1971). If 7th March is the prologue to the Liberation War, 10th January is the appropriate epilogue to it. Most importantly, Bangabandhu was able to make the history in both the events. The 7th March speech was a direction on how the independence could be conquered while the speech on 10 January steered the nation on how to realise the spirit of the Liberation War by the wave of nationalism and bravery.

The implication of Bangabandhu's homecoming during the early days of the independence was so important that the Awami League could have divided into different factions as political ambition among some leaders could have pushed the country into deep trouble had he not returned back on that day. Although the Mujibnagar government steered the War of Liberation so successfully, the situation started to take a different dimension after the independence of the country in the absence of Bangabandhu. Through his return, all worries surrounding the leadership crisis were faded away.

We all know that Bangabandhu was in power in the capacity of the Prime Minister and President for a short period that did not exceed over three and half years. Once taking over the responsibility of the state he had to come across different problems, including the rebuilding of a war-ravaged economy, refurbishing law and order, recovering illegal arms, rehabilitating the Freedom Fighters and restructuring the communication system. One of the most significant successes of Bangabandhu was to frame a Constitution of the newly independent country within the shortest possible time. It was an exception worldwide.

Bangabandhu was successful in reaching an agreement with the Indian Prime Minister Srimati Indira Gandhi to send the Indian army back within three months. This was a great achievement of Bangabandhu as sending back the allied forces so quickly was not an easy task. We have seen the existence of allied forces for a long time after the independence of a country in different parts of the world. It was only possible for Bangabandhu's disposition and leadership. It did not happen instantly; rather it was a product of his visionary leadership. By sending the allied forces within three months he sent a strong message to those who perceived that Bangladesh would not be able to advance independently.

Had Bangabandhu not returned home on the 10thof January, it would not have been possible to attain the recognition of an independent Bangladesh from 140 countries within a year. It was because of Bangabandhu's diplomacy whose main basis was “friendship with all”. Along with building diplomatic ties with the heads of different states, he was also cautious about setting the basic principles of the state policy. Most importantly, the insertion of “secularism” as one of the main pillars of the Bangladesh Constitution in a Muslim majority country that remained under Pakistani rule for over two decades required an enormous amount of courage. This shows how secular he was in his thinking. Along with secularism, he ensured the balance by inserting nationalism, democracy and socialism (to refer to economic and social justice for all) as three other state principles in the Constitution. Within his short stay in power, he invested his wholehearted efforts to building a "Sonar Bangla" ensuring prosperity for all. Unfortunately, he was killed with most of the family members on the 15th of August 1975 by those who did not want Bangladesh to be separated from Pakistan.

The significance of the return day of a radiant star is immense in the political history of Bangladesh. Had Bangabandhu not returned to Bangladesh on that day, the growth and prosperity would have been shattered. The development of a newly emerged country depends to a large extent on the credibility of the leadership as they remain responsible for setting the foundation stone of the country. Based on which, the country proceeds further to accelerate the process of development. Although Bangabandhu set a strong footing for Bangladesh, he was not given an opportunity to take Bangladesh at the peak of development. After his demise, many evil forces tried at different times to undermine the contribution of Bangabandhu and his homecoming day in the history of Bangladesh. But, they have failed to do it as Bangabandhu and Bangladesh have been inseparable to each other. It is a matter of great joy that Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina has taken over the responsibility of completing Bangabandhu's unfinished agendas of building a "Sonar Bangla". Thus, we expect that the newly elected government that has just been formed under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina would take an oath on the 10thof January to carry Bangladesh to the next level of development establishing good governance and eliminating corruption.

Writer: Professor, Additional Director of the Institutional Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Source: The Daily Sun