70 Years Of Awami League
If we want to write the history of Bangladesh, there is no way to complete that without bringing the name of Bangladesh Awami League–the oldest political party of the country. Awami League has huge contribution in every political movement from the Pakistan regime. Without this party and its leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, our independence in 1971 would have been a never to be attained dream. Now, Awami league is unavoidably paralleled with the development and progress of our nation.
Not only in Bangladesh, Awami League is well regarded in South Asia as one of the pioneering and most contributing political parties. Regional politics, peace and conflict resolution was a top priority of this party from the time of Bangabandhu and till now during the time of current Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This Party has just celebrated its 70th founding anniversary on June 23 this year. These 70 years have been a history of glory, pain, success and failures while it turned into a legacy.
Now, it is time to achieve Bangabandhu’s dream of ‘Golden Bangla’ and we are hopeful, that dream is safely sailing towards its destination under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina. We just feel and realize that, few changes inside the party regarding its management and operation are necessary to pursue that goal in a much faster pace.
Under the leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Awami League was well organized in the whole of Bangladesh. He also led the party to be elected in the 1970 election arranged under the black claws of West Pakistani rulers. Since its founding on June 23, 1949, the party played leading role in all democratic movements. It led the nation in the War of Liberation in 1971 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
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.
He was a great people’s leader. Bangabandhu had the power to influence the people and mould them in any direction. Being influenced by his speech the people of Bangladesh got engaged in the War of Liberation against the Pakistani junta. Hence the Pakistani junta considered him the most important enemy. In the light of his courageous leadership, Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971.
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.
Moreover, making Bangladeshi soil free of any foreign soldier only within three months of independence and which can be considered the full independence of Bangladesh was his most commendable and farsighted achievement.
After Bangabandhu’s brutal killing the power of the government was taken over by autocratic military rulers and the nation started moving backwards. Bangabadhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina returned on May 17, 1981 amid huge threats and she was already chosen as the leader of Awami League. After long fight for restoring democracy in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina led Awami League first came into power in 1996. The Awami league government is in power for consecutive three terms from 2009 onwards as they have been able to gain people’s trust for the development and progress of Bangladesh as no other party has been able to achieve any preference from the people since then despite efforts.
The country progressed significantly under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership with so many high-end development projects and when all these will be implemented, Bangladesh will obviously reach new heights but for that Awami League needs to reach new heights by introducing some extraordinary changes.
The leadership of Awami League must realize that, few qualities and attributes are required for their national level leaders to take the country forward as we have now reached a position to confront the global audience. Bangladesh is now coming out of the national perimeter and is constantly taking part in global forums where we are being applauded due to our contribution. But it is now time to move further and no national level leadership should be there without certain qualities.
A leader must hold commendable educational, political and social background to be a part of the national leadership. Money, muscle or power should not be the determinant of leadership any more. It is true that the party should never deprive or forget the contributions of field level activists and leaders or should not welcome new leaderships, but without certain qualities set as silent benchmarks, the leaders should not be allowed to take central or national stage. Hence, Awami League should be the pioneer in setting a standard by introducing a grading system of their leaders – from the very top to the very bottom.
This political grading should include few attributes prioritizing the personal characteristics as well as the social and political background and contribution of the activists and leaders. If a leader cannot reach a certain grade, he or she cannot come up to the ladder of national leadership. This is very hard in the context of Bangladesh and its politics because simply from one aspect, it is very hard to find proper educational background in our leaders. But without that, we cannot face the global audience as a leader of a developing or fast developing country.
We cannot allow others to crack jokes on us. Hence we have to ensure quality leadership starting from the national level. The leadership will be evaluated on different grades and if someone fails to reach an upper grade, he cannot move up the ladder only because he has money, muscle or power. If we really want to take our country forward, there is no alternate of introducing this system and only Bangladesh Awami League can give this drive to bring quality leadership in Bangladesh.
It is important that the leaders and activists hold the ideals of Bangabandhu at the core. Bangabandhu led Awami League and himself with some certain principles which can be termed as people-oriented, progress-oriented and uncompromising. He never compromised the interest of the people for self-benefit or benefits for some certain groups. The welfare of his fellow countrymen was his greatest priority. He was farsighted in terms of enabling regional cooperation where Bangladesh would take a leadership position in the region.
But even with the commendable achievements of the Awami League government in different terms, it is yet unsure how many leaders of Awami League actually uphold the ideals of Bangabandhu. Till now, it is PM Sheikh Hasina who is leading the party as well as the country upholding Bangabandhu’s principles which is not a fact for the whole party. But without that, the party will lose its uniqueness and greatness.
Due to being in the government for a long time, many now try to enter Awami League as activists or leaders though they are far away from the ideology of Bangabandhu. In this scenario, the top leadership recently declared that no new activists and leaders can enter Awami League. But it cannot be the right approach as it will close the opportunity to spread Bangabandhu’s ideology throughout the country. The process of entering into Awami League should remain open while checking the background of the new activists or leaders. If they really want to adopt or already upholds the principles Awami League is based on, they should be allowed to join the party.
No activists or leaders of Awami League should deviate from the principles of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. They must follow the characteristics of Sheikh Hasina to strongly march forward to the progress of Bangladesh and also to the welfare of the fellow countrymen. To embed these principles, Awami League should not only arrange councils but also should arrange political workshops. Regular interaction of the field level activists with the top leaders and the opportunity to learn from the seniors will definitely boost up the moral of the whole party and will ensure following the same ideals throughout the party.
Awami League government under the leadership and guidance of PM Sheikh Hasina is running fast to reach the goals set for themselves like; Vision 2021, Vision 2041 and Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 – the first 100-year long term plan for safe, climate resilient and prosperous Delta. This is a strong intention to address the problems as well as prospects of the country. But implementation of these plans is the key for the welfare of the country, success of the government and also upholding the legacy of Awami League. We hope Bangladesh Awami League keeps on writing histories while Bangladesh and its citizens keep prospering every day.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)