70TH ANNIVERSARY OF AWAMI LEAGUE
The people are the country’s real masters
WHILE travelling from Uttara towards the south in Dhaka city one cannot miss some of the placards fixed to the light posts which have many democratic slogans common to countries which professes democratic principles as the corner stones of an independent and sovereign state. The principles on the placards are Democracy, Human Rights, Secularism, Patriotism, the Spirit of the Liberation War, Development, and Digital Bangladesh. Maybe there were some more but these could not be read because they were lying on the street upside down.
At the entry point of the domestic terminal of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, life-sized photographs of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Sheikh Hasina have been on display.
Fidel Castro saw the Himalayas in Sheikh Mujib
These photographs were eye-catching but superfluous for introduction because Bangabandhu doesn’t need any introduction — not only in Bangladesh but across the world. People very well remember how in 1973 embracing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Non-Aligned Summit in Algiers, Cuban revolutionary communist leader Fidel Castro remarked: “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.” Bangabandhu earned respect of Yugoslav statesman and President Marshal Tito.
In some of these placards attempts were made to project the personality of those who are unknown or scantly known to the passersby.
Birth of Awami League
The Awami League was founded in Rose Garden, K M Das Lane, Dhaka on June 23, 1949 at a convention of the leaders and workers known to be a faction of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League, headed by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Abul Hashim. The new party was named East Pakistan Awami Muslim League and was established with Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani as President, Ataur Rahman Khan, Sakhawat Hossain and Ali Ahmed Khan as vice-presidents, Shamsul Haque as general secretary, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (then in jail), Khondakar Mostaq Ahmed and A K Rafiqul Hussain as joint secretaries, and Yar Mohammad Khan as treasurer.
From the very inception, the Awami League has been a secular political party. As a mark of its secular posture, the term ‘Muslim’ was deleted from the name of the party at its third council meeting held on 21-23 October 1955. The party believes in welfare economy and its front organisations include the students, labourers, peasants, youths and women.
The present-day leaders of Awami League (AL), it appears, have forgotten the founding leaders of the AL except Bangabandhu. This is why none of them appears in the presentations either through placards or through pictures which have adorned the Dhaka roadsides. It is a pity and the omissions do not speak highly of the present leadership, most of whom were perhaps schoolboys during the birth pangs of the party.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a forum of discussion organised by her party at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, Dhaka, has said, “None can destroy Awami League”. A political party stays as a political force so long it ensures the well-being of the people in general and does not create a class of rich people who think that they are the standard bearers of the party. These cronies flee the party when there is a political crisis.
The Muslim League was responsible for the creation of Pakistan. A faction of the Muslim League was revived under the leadership Nawaz Sharif who served for three terms as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. But that party is struggling to stay alive as Nawaz Sharif is in detention.
Existential crisis of Indian Congress party
Founded in 1885, the India’s grand old party, Indian National Congress, is going through an unprecedented existential crisis. The Congress party is yet to recover from widespread rejection by voters in central, north, north-east and western states, and is now facing four big daunting crisis situations—Rahul Gandhi’s resignation; vulnerability of governments in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka; rebellion in Rajasthan and an acute shortage of funds.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. In India attempts are now being made during the second term of Prime Ministership Narandra Modi to create an ‘‘India sans Congress’’ according to Amit Shah, the present Home Minister of the country. The Congress has done poorly in the election held recently as it has 52 seats in the National Parliament where BJP has a thumping majority. Congress had the largest number of MPs in 1984 in the India Parliament totaling 415 which no political party has so far superseded. In the subcontinent a political party is, therefore, not immortal or everlasting.
Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a breakaway leader from President Ayub Khan’s government, floated the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Under the leadership of his daughter Benazir Bhutto the PPP won parliament election, and Benazir became the prime minister of Pakistan. But she was brutally killed in an election campaign. Her husband Asif Ali Zaradari of PPP became the President of Pakistan. Now he is behind bars on corruption charges.
International cricketer and philanthropist Imran Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in 1996. Now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan was not a politician when the above mentioned personalities of Pakistan politics had there go. Imran Khan who has promised “Naya Pakistan” is also under political cloud as he has not been able to arrest the downturn of economic situation and improve law and order problem of his country. It is aired through Pakistani TV channels at times that an election to turn the present Parliamentary system into a Presidential system is on the cards, with the blessings of the Pakistani defence forces.
This year Awami League has observed its 70th anniversary and this is the 48th year of independence. On the occasion of this coincidence the leaders who govern the country should make a heart-searching about the condition of society and social life. Are rapes, murders, road accident fatalities, extrajudicial deaths, custodial deaths, enforced disappearances, protests in various forms against social and administrative injustices on the wane or on the rise? The result of such a study can provide guidelines for appropriate action for those who govern and those who are governed. Those who are governed — the people — are the real masters of the country.