Independence Day amidst Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu26 March 2021
Dr. M Abul Kasem Mozumder & Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
When we remember Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we go back to the stormy days of mass agitation that unnerved each successive ruling regime responsible for distorting political institutions. Mujib did all necessary ground works since 1948 creating a host of historic moments that in the long run turned into Bangladesh movement. Six-point formula was a magna carter of the people of this land orchestrating their political rights, cultural freedom and emancipation from the onslaught of the semblance of colonial exploitation. Six-point being identified with Bengali sentiment was a real force behind rising militancy of movement for a separate homeland.''
Sheikh Mujib's charisma and authority ascended with the public activity of students whose vision of independence was not the same as his, but gave his strength, as his gave theirs hope and legitimacy. Bangabandhu could thus pursue his constitutional vision with faith in popular support. On March 10, 1969, he presented the Awami League's Six-Point federation plan at a Rawalpindi Round Table Conference, where West Pakistan politicians rejected it as a plan to dismember Pakistan. Thus, by 1969, the two visions of independence in East Pakistan had clearly become indistinguishable in West Pakistan, and probably had been by 1966, if not 1954. By 1969, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib symbolized both, though he himself pursued the constitutional vision. On March 25, 1969, Ayub Khan resigned. General Yahya Khan imposed martial law. On November 28, Yahya Khan decreed elections to be held the next year. On the basis of the principle of one person, one vote, East Pakistan received 162 of the 300 general seats and five indirectly elected female seats in the unicameral National Assembly of East Pakistan.
Fresh and dynamic political leadership furnished by Bangabandhu was quickly popularizing secular ideology to the country somewhat tormented by the vested interests that whipped up communalism to retain power. The way he conducted himself with rising popularity generated intellectual climate in favour of secularism. Time was propitious for the Bengali intelligentsia to nourish cultural and progressive movements drawing inspiration from historical dynamics of Bengali culture to build a democratic and enlightened society.
Several times Mujib staged a comeback after suffering imprisonment thus bearing the brunt of all troubles. Every time Bangabandhu came out of jail popular movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan used to get extra-momentum. He mobilized people from all walks of life with new zeal setting immediate course of action as a great tactician and skilled political engineer. What appeared to be politically efficacious and appealing was his charismatic personality with elegant face and towering height. Never was he cowed down by any intimidation and liquidation facing the ruling clique with tough political programmes. A flamed with Bengali nationalism thrusting million of Bangalees gave band waging response to his call during the tumultuous days of Bangladesh movement. Mujib was at the forefront of popular movement from the very beginning of the creation of Pakistan. At that time students were very active in the movement and Mujib was identified with the student sentiment, their aspirations, political perception and revolutionary mind-set. Much of the dynamics of progressive movement hovering around language movement (1948-1952) was provided by the students' organizations with Mujib as their great inspirator. He was arrested during the agitation and was in jail until 1952.
Since mid-fifties the Awami league operated as a secular organization. Mujib realized that 'without a clearly defined platform of secular politics, the Awami League would become one of the many ordinary bodies struggling for a share of spoils in the Pakistani structure.' With six point movement he wanted to reconfigure the federal state with a new formula for Pakistan, the country that exhibited peculiar geo-political characteristics contrary to the notion of federation. The growing popularity of student's movement for the realization of six and eleven point demands with the participations of moderate right, socialists and radicals in response to Bangabondhu's clarion call upset Ayub's regime. He was continually onward in imprisonment until 1969 as he was involved in Agartola case. The main resistance against Ayub shahi came from the students' during1969 mass upsurge. The six point plan of provincial autonomy and Students' eleven point demand coalesced to merge into a single political entity. Moulana Bhasani who staged a 'gathering of storm' to threat Ayub demanded immediate release of Shaikh Mujib. Mass upheaval 'reached a logical conclusion on 22nd February through the release of Mujib and his fellow accused in the Agartala case from custody and the unconditional withdrawal of the case itself'. On 23rd February, 1969 Tofail Ahmed conferred the 'honorific of Bangabandhu' on Shaikh Mujib.
Thus came to an end of much trumpeted Ayub's decade of progress. Then came another military regime led by Yahia Khan during transition that marked the beginning of an end. Bangladesh movement in fact begun when Bangabandhu declared in a meeting to observe death anniversary of Shaheed Suhrawardi that henceforth East Pakistan would be known as Bangladesh'. The landslide victory of Awami league in 1970 general election was a turning point in the history of Bangladesh movement. The development of Bengali nationalism reached its zenith by this time. Much of the dynamics of post-election politics happened to be a mark of an intensification Bangladesh movement with flaming Bengali nationalism. Bangabandhu rose to the occasion as the man of the moment. His leadership style in the crisis moment was a booster to the struggling masses.
In the 1970 elections, East Pakistan voters again declared independence in the context of the military dictatorship by endorsing the vision of parliamentary federalism. As the elected majority leader of the Pakistan National Assembly, and the sole spokesman for the people of East Pakistan, Sheikh Mujib then swore all their elected representatives to a solemn oath at Ramna Race Course, and he planned to restructure Pakistan as a federation of states, along lines similar to those of the Muslim League's 1940 Lahore Resolution. Nonetheless, what Maulana Bhashani imagined as possible in 1957 became reality on March 1, 1971, when Yahya Khan cancelled the National Assembly session scheduled for March 3 and realistic possibilities for a federated Pakistan died.
Sheikh Mujib's famous speech on March 7, 1971, evidently appeared to many in the crowd as a declaration of independence, but many also felt disappointed by its ambiguity. By that point, it seems, the public mood had left the six points behind going on to the extreme path of taking to arms for liberation. In fact Bangabandhu was a tactician all with his sagacity. Direct declaration of independence would have led Yahiya to go for air attack on the massive crowed in Ramna race course. What he wanted was avoiding was remendous bloodshed. Scholars on Bangladesh history would agree with ther view that his 7 March was a master piece compared to Linclon's Gettysburg speech. Historic 7 March speech speaks for itself-what charismatic leadership means. . He never negotiated with military junta who decapitated democracy with ethnocentric predisposition to deny Bangalees' access to power in a federal state based on flimsy foundation. The words 'compromise' and 'equation' were unknown in his dictionary. For this uncompromising attitude altogether with daunting courage Mujib became the target of the ruling coterie who put him to jail several times.' Sheikh Mujib was stimulated people by his charismatic leadership capability and huge political knowledge. From his early life he was demonstrated two key leadership qualities which make him unquestionable leader of the Bangladesh. One key quality was proactive social consciousness and paramount dedication for politics.
The great leader is the one who keeps his fellow charmed and spell bound due to his extraordinary leadership traits. He is seen by his followers as being all powerful, all wise, and morally perfect. One of the outstanding traits of a great leader is his mass appeal. He consciously seeks to gain control over the citizens not just by the impact of force but, more significantly by appealing for affirmative and enthusiastic devotion. He identifies himself with the popular mood and expresses their aspirations. A great leader seems most likely to emerge during periods when the force of neither tradition nor mere emotion appears to be adequate to cope with mounting political crisis or situation.
The leadership of Shkeik Mujib into national politics was the result of his proven capacity of leadership and long experience of public life. Since his childhood he displayed two main qualities of leadership which would one day make him the undisputed leader of the country. One was a hyper active social-conscious and another over-riding passion for politics. Mujib had many traits of leadership that identified him as a leader of the common man and the downtrodden.
Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of its founder President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Tuesday. The day marks the beginning of the year long celebration of the birth centenary named Mujib Barsho in Bangladesh and across the world.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marked the day by paying floral tributes to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at his residence in Dhanmondi area of Dhaka in the morning. Special arrangement has been made to celebrate liberation. Already Prime minister of Srilanka visited Bangladesh. The visit of Viddyabati Bhandariu is also remarkable along with the visit of Bhutan Prime Minister. Indian Premier Modi is all set to visit on 26 March.
(DR. M Abul Kasem Mozumder is Pro-VC, Bangladesh University Of Professional and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque is Professor (Retired), Public Administration, Chittagong University)