75 Years of Awami League: Turning Bangladesh into an Independent and Prosperous Country

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Published on June 9, 2024
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Sheikh Mujib was made a member of the convening committee in a meeting at Dhaka University Fazlul Haque Hall Auditorium to attain the rights of the people of East Bengal under Pakistan, which was born based on backward and false nationalism two-nation theory On January 4, 1948. There was a polarization of politics that began in 1949 to be organized against Pakistan's autocratic behavior in various parts of the country, including Dhaka University. On June 23, 1949, the Awami Muslim League party was founded in the Rose Garden of KM Das Lane in old Dhaka. Then, a non-sectarian section of Muslim League leaders left and formed a new party called East Pakistan Awami Muslim League through a political workers conference.

The demand for the party's non-sectarian name was raised at its establishment. Still, due to the social reality and the political context of the time, the party adopted non-sectarian and secular policies by removing the word 'Muslim' from the Awami Muslim League in 1955, about four years after its establishment. This political party debuted with the vow to fight for the rights of Bengalis under the Awami League. Since its establishment, the Awami League has become an institution that realizes the rights of Bengalis through prolonged agitation and struggles. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and General Secretary Shamsul Haque were elected president of Awami League in the first conference. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in prison at that time. In the first committee, he got the post of joint secretary from prison. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to the leadership of the Awami League at one stage of leadership continuity. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected General Secretary of Awami League in 1966.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman later awarded the title of 'Bangabandhu,' led the movement's struggle for rights through the Awami League. His leadership was instrumental in the party's evolution into an institution for the realization of Bengali rights. Under his guidance, the Awami League became the leading party in the freedom struggle and liberation war. The party's movements against Pakistan's rule and persecution, communalism, and the establishment of language rights all turned into a freedom movement under his leadership.

The great liberation war and independence were achieved under the leadership of the Awami League. On that day, Bengalis jumped into the liberation war at the call of Bangabandhu. 1952 Language Movement, 1954 United Front Elections The party progressed with continuous movement and struggle on the way to victory. A sedition case followed the six-point movement of 1966 in the Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968, in which Sheikh Mujib was the number one accused. By the end of 1968, political and student unity was formed against this case. As a result, in 1969, a popular uprising forced the government to withdraw the case and release the royal prisoners. Through this, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was awarded the title of Bangabandhu.

In Pakistani politics, Sheikh Mujib and East Bengal then transformed into a controlling force exerting influence against the conspiracies of the West Pakistanis. In the 1970 elections, he won a huge victory. However, from the conspiracy of not handing over the power, Bangabandhu's historic speech on March 7 and Operation Searchlight on March 25 against Bangabandhu's declaration of independence on March 26 and the beginning of the liberation war. Bangladesh emerged as an independent state on 16 December 1971.

Bangabandhu successfully led the reconstruction of an independent country. But domestic and international conspiratorial groups tried to take the country back to Pakistani style through the August 15 assassination, the seizure of power, the killing of four national leaders in jail, and the establishment of a total military dictatorship. In 1981, Sheikh Hasina was elected president of the party conference. After six years, she returned to the country and took charge of the Awami League. At that time, when the military ruler Ziaur Rahman was killed in a coup, a chaotic situation was created in the country's politics. After that, Chief of Army Staff Ershad took power, and military rule was imposed again in the country.

The ruling Awami League has entered 75 years of glory, tradition, struggle, and success. June 23 marks the 75th founding anniversary of this ancient political party that led the country's freedom struggle and liberation war. Awami League has reached this position after many setbacks, ups and downs, and prolonged agitations and struggles. In the past 75 years, the party has established many traditions. In this long journey, Awami League had to face many adverse situations. A lot of ups and downs and ups and downs had to go through. Sometimes, the party faced a leadership vacuum, repression, and sometimes disintegration. After the killing of most of the family members of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 August 1975 and the killing of four national leaders on 3 November, the Awami League fell into a leadership vacuum.

The party's multiple factions, groupings, and divisions emerged from this vacuum. Then, during the party's extreme crisis in 1981, Bangabandhu's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, returned to the country and took the reins of the Awami League with a firm hand. The divided Awami League was united again under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. Awami League has been run under his leadership for almost four decades. In addition to the movement and struggle to establish democracy in the country, the Awami League has held power five times. However, out of 75 years, the Awami League has had to stay out of state power for almost 50 years, on the streets, in agitations and struggles.

After Bangladesh's independence, Bangabandhu's government ruled for three and a half years, and Sheikh Hasina led it for five years in 1996 and currently, Awami League has been in power for 16 and a half consecutive years. Even though the party's leaders keep in touch with the leaders and workers of the whole country, the question remains about how much they play a role in implementing the party's promises. When the workers come, they have nothing to do but comfort them, the leaders and activists of the quitters have alleged. As many people have not tasted the power of the party even though they were born the Awami League, so many people suddenly come and sit together and enjoy the power. Although many have organizational skills and experience, they are not in the party but in power.

It seems that the time has come to think about whether this experiment of uncoordinated separation of party and government has changed the nature of Awami League from a people-oriented, worker-friendly, well-organized political force. In the politics of the Awami League, the working committee meeting used to end in several days. Decision proposals taken in those meetings had an essential impact on the politics of Bangladesh. Talented politicians played a role in making that proposal. Although Awami League was a party of people with low incomes, its politics was colorful and illuminated by the light of tradition.

After 1975, those who risked their lives to fly the flag of Chhatra League's politics during the deep crisis promoted the politics of Bangabandhu's ideals and destroyed the party with their organizational skills and talent. Are they going on the back foot? They are not evaluated. Those who risked, jailed, and tortured at One-Eleven: Now, no one listens to those who did not leave the people's leader, Sheikh Hasina. Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has entered Bangladesh as a developing country and become an economic development role model. Her success in the coronavirus war is worth seeing. Despite the hundreds of failures of the Ministry of Health, she is facing a crisis in terms of her leadership, foresight, talent, and wisdom. No one has to suffer for food. Awami League runs the state today, but the power will not last forever. Is the organizational strength and structure ready to deal with the tricky politics of the opposition? Does anyone think about this?

So, the time has come to evaluate the party's stalwarts and tried and tested leaders. Bangabandhu turned the Awami League into a popular grassroots political party. His daughter, Sheikh Hasina, exiled after his brutal murder, has taken the reins as Awami League president as a symbol of unity in times of extreme distress. She has walked a long way in the struggle for democracy. She came back from the face of death again and again. She brought Awami League to power after 21 years as a popular party and is working tirelessly to institutionalize democracy. Those who remained associated with the Awami League during the difficult times are the real Awami Leaguers. Because their sacrifice is too much, they are the ones who play a role in fighting corruption in One Eleven.

This is the complex reality of the party. Opportunists flock to whatever power they have. But can the opportunists entangle themselves in a network of political commercialization and corruption at all be removed? Many people from different parties are enjoying power in the Awami League. They could not be Awami Leaguer; they could not love the party's martyred workers with their hearts. This is a big challenge for Awami League as an organization. Awami League has always played a politically vocal and protesting role against all kinds of exploitation, deprivation, injustice, and oppression in any democratic movement of Bangladesh, starting from the independence movement of this country, along with the economic, social, political, and cultural, liberation of the people and is still doing so. When this group is in power, people's fortunes improve.

The history of this 75 years from the foundation of this party bears testimony to that fact. Now, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu's courageous daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is in power for the fifth time. In the party's name, sometimes extortion, tender, other people's lands, houses, shops, business establishments are grafted and reported in the newspaper. Although Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sternly warned about the party's position, government's position, and attitude on these issues, organizational measures and stern actions were sometimes taken. However, not everyone thinks that the situation is improving or changing. So, the Awami League faces these challenges. People's expectations have significantly increased after being in power for four consecutive terms. Awami League has to evaluate it. It is essential to highlight the government's development activities and the benefits of development activities, especially the programs undertaken for the development and welfare of the people, to every person in the country.

Awami League, which is leading in the liberation war, must resolve the conflicts and disputes of the grassroots party and involve everyone in all local development activities, social service, and humanitarian work. It will speed up development work locally, and the work quality will also improve. On the other hand, the involvement and friendship of the party leaders and workers with the familiar people will increase, and the party's popularity and the government's reputation will improve. However, many analysts believe that dedicated leaders are going into the background due to the hybrid or new Awami Leaguers, which may be gloomy for the future and the party.

Any calamities and essential tasks, including the Corona situation that are being supervised and dealt with by the Prime Minister deserve praise. Many of the MP ministers cannot create such a connection with the ordinary people, especially the people of their respective constituencies. Such reports are sometimes seen in the media. If the leaders and activists of the Awami League think that the opponent is weak and do not correct themselves, it will harm the party and the country. People should be loved and involved in everything. The party's leaders and workers should take this responsibility, and the place of people's trust should be restored. Analysts also suggest clarifying whether the hybrid and new Awami Leaguers will work or give the responsibility to the quitters.

Politics is not only for self-interest, but the primary purpose of politics is to serve the country's people. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the greatest Bengali of thousands of years, the father of the nation, the architect of the great independence war, used to collect rice from his family and neighbors to educate the poor and helpless students. He has provided the education expenses of many students. He was imprisoned numerous times from his student days until the country became independent. He never deviated from his ideals and the great vow of the welfare of the country's people. But today, many opportunistic people who do politics in the name of Bangabandhu's ideals now keep themselves isolated from the people.

Party and activists come to the media for misdeeds; the government and the nation are embarrassed. Misguided leaders and activists will refrain from such actions and work for the welfare of the people. Awami League and Awami League's leaders, supporters, and the youth of the country will be the bearers of the ideals of the Bengali Father of the Nation. They will work selflessly for a country like Bangabandhu, be free of arrogance, and build harmony in Bangladesh by ensuring the peaceful coexistence of people of all religions without discriminating between people. The leaders and activists of our Awami League and organizations, from the very top to the village level, several leaders and activists’ supporters of the leader Sheikh Hasina, do not understand the speech properly, or even if they do, they follow their wisdom, which it can be seen that many people are not doing the work of a real party or government across the country.

There is a lack of tendency among activists to follow the ideals of Bangabandhu. It should be remembered that everyone has to work on the idealized path of Bangabandhu under the instructions of Sheikh Hasina. Many leaders of the Awami League do not keep abreast of the government's development activities and sometimes engage in embarrassing activities. Those in the leadership of the Awami League or the organization will implement the leader's philosophy, Bangabandhu. The leader will tell the people about the work he has done, and through the work, he will take a place in the hearts of the people. Bangabandhu used to think about our student society, and he said, 'Every member of the student and youth society should be developed as an ideal human being’.

 They will become a perfect force. By this ideal man, he means such a person who will possess advanced human qualities and be followed by others. Everything that is socially good, noble, and benevolent will be included in every student society member. To be an ideal human, everyone should have honesty, devotion, a hardworking and philanthropic attitude, humanity, compassion, humility, non-arrogance, and courage. Bangabandhu himself was a romantic man. The liberation of Bengal's exploited and oppressed people was his life's main goal and ideal. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has worked tirelessly in the last decade to lead the country towards development and achieve Vision 2041 or Smart Bangladesh after attaining Vision 2021.

She has mentioned in her speech at various times that the identity of the criminals is that they are criminals. They must be punished under the law, and the mischief of some nefarious people who personally identify the beneficiaries and bring them to book has become necessary. Through this, many good works of the Prime Minister and her government are being suppressed, about which the self-interested people are not worried.

 

Currently, unprecedented unity has been created among people on the issue of Smart Bangladesh. Digital Bangladesh has been made. Access to technology should be harnessed to create jobs. This economic transformation also requires a transformation in the education system. Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina said that among the leaders and activists, there would be honesty, devotion, hard work and philanthropic attitude, human kindness-sympathy, humility-non-arrogance, and courage. Bangabandhu himself was an idealistic man. In the coming days, Bangladesh will play a leading role in the streets by holding the ideals of Bangabandhu and working under the leadership and guidance of Sheikh Hasina to make Bangladesh a smart Bangladesh by 2041 - this is everyone's expectation.

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has entered Bangladesh as a developing country and become an economic development role model. She has been working towards establishing Bengali nationalism in the spirit of the liberation war, fostering democratic culture, building an exploitation-free society, and building a developed, prosperous, modern, and progressive state system. Bangladesh is progressing in many ways. A country prospers only through progress. If other countries recognize and appreciate Bangladesh's progress, it is very positive and inspiring.

The Awami League government has made infrastructure development and civic services at the people's doorsteps, making it easy. It must be accepted that there are strict instructions from the head of government. Without seeing the communication system and road structure in the villages and remote areas, one cannot believe how easily the people of these areas have been able to accept life and livelihood and have become accustomed to it. Sheikh Hasina's dream is to take the country forward in the spirit of the liberation war and to give the country's people a taste of development. The main goal was to write the history of the liberation war, to place Bangabandhu's existence in the history of the liberation war, and to place him in a proper place of dignity.

The excellent freedom struggle of Bangladesh promised to fulfill the fundamental rights of fellow citizens, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is walking on the path of development, progress, and prosperity, facing various domestic and foreign challenges. He is relentlessly trying to build a progressive, democratic and non-communal Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty. So far, more than 8 lakh 88 thousand land and houses have been distributed among homeless families. The Awami League government is working to implement four foundations to build a smart Bangladesh successfully.

These are Smart Citizens, Smart Economy, Smart Government, and Smart Society. Apart from this, the plan of how the delta will be in the year 2100 has been undertaken. All work in Smart Bangladesh will be done through technology, and every citizen will be proficient. Smart Bangladesh of 2041 will be a cost-effective, sustainable, intellectual, knowledge-based, and innovative Bangladesh. Competent healthcare, smart transportation, smart utilities, urban administration, public safety, agriculture, internet connectivity, and disaster management will be ensured when implementing smart cities and smart villages.

Sheikh Hasina has been leading the country for more than 16 years as the Prime Minister, and one of the reasons why Bangladesh has not fallen into any significant economic crisis like other countries in the current global financial crisis is that she has been able to take the economic base of the country in a strong position during this time. Otherwise, it would have been complicated to save the country of 17 crore people from disaster, even during this crisis. In 1990, the Awami League played a leading role in bringing the country back to the path of elections by ending the military rule. In 1996, the Awami League, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, took responsibility for running the state by forming the government.

Awami League also has to deal with various conspiracies. In the elections held in 2008, the Awami League won by a considerable margin. Sheikh Hasina started to form the government and implement the framework of the socio-economic transformation of Bangladesh. During this time, the country achieved self-sufficiency in electricity and got the opportunity to go digital; in 1971, war criminals were prosecuted, and poverty alleviation and social security projects were being implemented. Bangladesh is a middle-income country in 2026. Bangladesh celebrated its golden jubilee of independence in 2021.

 The country became independent under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; Bangladesh became a developing and self-respecting state under his daughter, Sheikh Hasina. For 75 years, Awami League as a political party has given Bangladesh much freedom, development, self-esteem, and glorious pride. But now many complain that lifetime dedicated leaders did not get the taste of party power despite the Awami League. Similarly, many people suddenly come and fly, sit across, and enjoy the entire taste of the power.

Former bureaucrats, business people, and hybrids have many complaints or grievances. Complaints still show that the party does not care for the dedicated workers when it comes to power. Ministers and MPs no longer know or find recognizing them difficult. Do not want to crowd to familiar people. They did not receive any party favors; they didn't even have a political evaluation. Thousands of leaders and workers in Awami League politics are full of frustration.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working towards establishing Bengali nationalism in the spirit of the liberation war, fostering democratic culture, building an exploitation-free society, and building a developed, prosperous, modern, and progressive state system. Bangladesh is progressing in many ways. Without seeing the communication system and road structure in the villages and remote areas, one cannot believe how easily the people of these areas have been able to accept life and livelihood and have become accustomed to it. Sheikh Hasina's dream is to take the country forward in the spirit of the liberation war and to give the country's people a taste of development.

The main goal was to write the history of the liberation war, to include Bangabandhu in it, and to give him proper dignity. Bangladesh's outstanding freedom struggle promised to fulfill the fundamental rights of fellow citizens, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is walking on the path of development, progress, and prosperity, facing various domestic and foreign challenges. She is relentlessly trying to build a progressive, democratic and non-communal Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty. The Awami League government is working to implement four foundations to make a Smart Bangladesh successful. These are Smart Citizens, Smart Economy, Smart Government, and Smart Society. All work in Smart Bangladesh will be done through technology, and every citizen will be proficient. Smart Bangladesh of 2041 will be a cost-effective, sustainable, intellectual, knowledge-based, and innovative Bangladesh.

Smart and innovative healthcare, smart transportation, smart utilities, urban administration, public safety, agriculture, internet connectivity, and disaster management will be ensured when implementing smart cities and smart villages. Awami League stands by the people in any calamity. This is Awami League, and this is the teaching of Awami League. The history of Awami League is like the history of struggle, and at the same time, Awami League can improve or move a country forward, as Bangladesh is moving forward now. No matter how evil forces conspire against Bangladesh, no one can stand in the way of Bengali progress.

Due to the support of the people, the country's progress has been made possible by the relentless efforts of the government, and Bangladesh has become a role model for development. Bangladesh will move forward as a role model. When the country moves forward with the relentless efforts of the Awami League government, the allies of the defeated forces of the liberation war try to create instability and anarchy. Awami League believes in communal harmony. No evil force will be allowed to flourish in this country. Free textbooks are being distributed to students up to secondary school. The literacy rate has risen to 75 percent. Two crore people are getting various allowances under the social security net, and 12 crore people indirectly benefit from the social security net.

Hundreds of people in the country are getting electricity. Healthcare is at people's doorsteps. 17 thousand 500 community clinics, poor people are getting 30 types of medicines free of charge. The average life expectancy of people has increased to 73 years. Digital Bangladesh has been established. Extensive infrastructural development programs, including roads, highways, bridges, flyovers, subways, elevated expressways, railways, waterways, and communications, have been implemented and are ongoing nationwide. Metrorail has been launched, Padma Setu has been launched, Bangabandhu Tunnel and Elevated Express have been launched.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working tirelessly to make Bangladesh a middle-income country, keeping Awami League's massive campaign ahead. Education, communication infrastructure, gas, electricity, women's education, 100% increase in salaries and allowances for employees, health care, distribution of free books, achieving self-sufficiency in food production, backward communities under social programs, helpless, elderly, widows, disabled persons, abused women, People are benefiting from autism, assisting poor freedom fighters, shelter schemes, one house one farm scheme, women empowerment and overall development of various sectors. Only under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has it been possible to achieve that prosperity.

She said, 'We have won the great liberation war. We are a winning nation. As a victorious nation, we can stand tall in the court of the world. We will not bow down to anyone; we will not walk by bowing down to anyone. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu repeatedly said that using that wealth will make us proud of our glory in the World Assembly, build ourselves, and walk with our heads high to the whole world. This will be the most critical step for the people of this country. This is how our beloved motherland, Bangladesh, built by Bangabandhu, will move forward. In response to the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasized various infrastructural developments, including the development of skilled human resources.

In the next five years, Bangladesh strives to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index. 5,500 Unions have been brought under the Internet at an affordable cost through the One Country One Rate program. Eight thousand eight hundred digital centers have been launched across the country. 5G has been launched experimentally but will also work commercially. With the help of information technology, young people are building small and big IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other organizations. Besides, some significant achievements, including Bangladesh's first satellite in space, have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the eyes of the world. Bangabandhu's Golden Bengal is no longer a dream but a visible reality. Only the Awami League takes this country forward, and Bangladesh will move forward under the leadership of the Awami League.

Hiren Pandit is an essayist, researcher, and columnist.