Bangabandhu, a visionary leader of magnetism15 August 2021
Md. Shamim Iftakhar :
"Ninety percent of the people of Bangladesh were taken in by the magical power of Sheikh Mujib, and they were ready to sacrifice their lives for the creation of Bangladesh"
- Maj Gen (R) Rao Farman Ali, Pak Army
The Greatest Bangali of thousand years, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of the greatest personalities of the last century. He was the main actor of the historic transformation- Movement of Autonomy to our struggle of Independence. If we look through the eyes of our Bengali identity we find that 'Bangabandhu' and 'Bangladesh' are synonymous. We cannot think of one without the other. His greatest sacrifice, lifelong contribution and charismatic leadership made him the icon of the emergence of Bangladesh.
One of the remarkable features of his political life was his transformation from an ordinary rank and file worker of a political party to an unparalleled leader of millions of people. Bangabandhu possessed outstanding organizational capacity; at the same time he was a great orator. The historic speech of 7th march 1971 is a vivid example of the great poet of politics to inspire everyone for the sacrifice towards our liberation.
Sheikh Mujib to Bangabandhu
In 1968, Sheikh Mujib was charged with conspiracy to break up Pakistan. He along with 35 others was accused of conspiracy (Agartala Conspiracy Case) for declaring East Pakistan as an independent state. This case was withdrawn under overwhelming movement of people of East Pakistan on 22 February 1969. After that day, millions of people roared its approval when Tofael Ahmed, then a leading student leader, proposed Sheikh Mujib as the title of "Bangabandhu', friend of Bengal.
Visionary Leadership of Bangabandhu
Sheikh Mujib had a propensity for politics right from the beginning and he had a very strong political talent and was an exceptional speechmaker who could mesmerize all categories of people with his glowing discourses. In an era of all-predominant fog and friction, it was Bangabandhu who had a clear vision to achieve his specific mission of independence which he had been nourishing in his heart and mind since creation of East Pakistan. Now let us see through few of the visionary leadership traits of Bangabandhu which would give us an understanding of how people were hypnotised by him to participate in their own war --- the people's war.
Charisma in Leadership
Bangabandhu had the ability to encourage particular behaviour in others by way of eloquent communication, pursuance and forceful personality. His way of addressing people of all range with very simple words would make them feel like Bangabandhu is for them and will always be there for them. In true sense of the term, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a leader with massive charismatic power and able to highly motivate and stimulate the individuals. He was the fearless fighter of the Language Movement of 1952; the pioneer of the democratic movement of 1962; the architect of Six-point Movement of 1966; the life force of Mass movement of 1969; the enviable victor of the election of 1970 and, above all, the greatest hero of Liberation War of 1971. His great charisma combined with political acumen made him the greatest of the different leaders of Bangladesh Independence.
Influential voice and art of articulation
Shekh Mujibur Rahman starts his historic 7th March speech with soft voice saying, 'My dear brothers…. I have come before you today with a heavy heart' and then he narrates the atrocities all around the country. But while he is at the end of his speech, then he articulates with the power of his voice the words of a life time saying, 'The struggle this time is for our emancipation! The struggle this time is for our independence!' According to British journalist Sir Mark Tully, he had a magnificent voice that could mesmerise the crowd and his voice was redolent of thunder. His flaming oratory rightly convinced the poverty-stricken people at that time that they had been exploited by the West Pakistan.
Bangabandhu's personality, a mingling of gentle and stern qualities, had a supernatural magical attraction that could easily imprint a lasting impression on the individual. He could easily win the hearts of the people by virtue of his courage, honesty and political will. Embracing him at the Algiers Nonaligned summit in 1973, Cuba's Fidel Castro commented, "I have not seen the Himalayas but I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas".
Assertiveness, Confidence and Courage
One of the nodal elements of Bangabandhu's leadership was his assertiveness to obtain what was deemed necessary to attain his goal. Throughout the campaign leading to general election 1970, he continuously perused on his six-point doctrine which he believed to be the most essentials for his success. Bangabandhu served jail for 4,682 days for independence. He was the epitome of courage and tenacity. An explicit of Bengali nationalism, the six-point was unveiled in Lahore, the heart of Punjab by Bangabandhu. In Lahore, the bastion of arrogant Punjabi power, Bangabandhu displayed admirable physical and morale courage during the course of a public meeting in 1970 that he was addressing.
Love for the people and Always to the people
Bangabandhu in his book 'Unfinished Memoirs' writes, "As a man, what concerns mankind, also concerns me. As a Bangalee, I am deeply involved in all that concerns Bangalees. This abiding involvement is born of and nourished by love, enduring love, which gives meaning to my politics and to my very being". In an interview with Sir David Frost on BBC in 1972, Bangabandhu said with a warm heart, "My greatest strength is the love for my people; my greatest weakness is that I love them too much". As such, his politics was people's politics.
Magnetism of a people's leader
A People's War is "a war fought for the people by the people" because "the war's goals are the people's goals". The historic speech by Bangabandhu on 7th March 1971, in a true sense, echoed the same what people wanted to hear. Furthermore, the directness and lucidity of the speech as awaited from Bangabandhu readily stimulated the people irrespective of creed, colour and religion. Few invaluable tenets of Bangabandhu as observed are appended below:
Intellect and vision
The speech exhibits deep intellect and vision of Bangabandhu. Considering the overall political situation, he didn't declare the independence on 7th March, yet gave his strategic guidance for the final revolution quite insightfully. He was quite clear in his vision to direct how people should react to protect their motherland, starve the enemy to death or keep the world informed of the situation, even if he is absent to command. However, the notion of People's War became definite as he uttered, "…. build fortress in every home, face the enemy with whatever you have. In every village, every locality, every union and every sub-division establish 'Resistant Council' under the leadership of the Awami League."
Charisma with oratory eminence
Supremely confident visage with magnificent commanding voice endowed Bangabandhu being charismatic among the men. Bhatnagar in his book stated, "No man in the entire history of modern world except Mao for different reasons has hypnotized his people as Mujib did". Thus, his speech entailing "simple words, coined with easy metaphors and delivered in profound tenor" were bound to create an enduring impact on people's mind.
Engagement with the people
Amazingly in some part of his speech, Bangabandhu addressed the people as 'tumi' and "tomader" (informal you in Bengali) irrespective of age, rank and file. It was only possible by Bangabandhu as his source of strength was his love, empathy, trust and his belief on people's mandate.
Courage and sense of honour
Bangabandhu was a real epitome of both physical and moral courage with a supreme sense of honour. During the trial of Agartala Conspiracy Case, he denied participating in the Round Table Conference as a prisoner. His authoritative conduct with top military brasses bears the testimony to his bravery and sense of honour. Induced by such valour, Bengalis thus readily vowed to die, as he uttered "You can't keep seven crores of people subjugated. Since we have learnt to die, no one can dominate us."
The principal architect and transformer of Bangladesh in to a sovereign nation, Father of the Nation Bagabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not a mere individual or a political colossus but in fact an institution, a movement, a revolution and an upsurge. It took him three decades, almost 13 years in prison, torture of rulers, love of millions and sacrifice all comforts to become a Father of the Nation. Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has rightly pointed out in his video message to HPM Sheikh Hasina on Birth Centenary Celebration of Bangabandhu saying, "Bangabandhu means- A Leader of Courage, A Man of Conviction, A Sage of Peace, A Champion of Justice, Equality and Dignity, A Hand of Defiance against Brutality, and, A Shield against Coercion". Therefore, it was the cumulative of Bangabandhu's Visionary Leadership that brought people into a Total War and got that through Independence with a Red-Green flag.
(Md. Shamim Iftakhar is an army officer & currently working for Bangladesh Navy).