Thursday, 11 August, 2022

Awami League Has One Sheikh Hasina

Like everyone else, I am also drawn to chatter. Sometimes I just want a storm in a cup of tea, whether it is over politics or literature. I was talking to a senior leader of Awami League. We were talking about the current political and economic situation. Another colleague of mine was also at the table. We discussed about whether or not BNP will participate in the next election. The current state of Sri Lanka, the war in Ukraine, the global reality and the challenges facing the government were not left out from the storm in a cup of tea. We questioned what will be the role of America and India regarding Bangladesh in the upcoming elections and why diplomats are so active about Bangladesh now. The leader was giving his opinion. Again he was throwing questions to us. The leader said, 'Neither BNP nor foreigners are a factor for us. The politics of Bangladesh is not dependent on foreign countries. Nothing will happen in this country at the behest of any other country's ambassador or high commissioner. BNP's attempt to fish in troubled water will be of no use. Sushil and doctors' multifaceted activities in the country and abroad will be ruined if we are good.' I was listening to the words attentively. I asked, what do you mean by saying we are good? Please elaborate. In response, the leader said, 'We mean the Awami League and talking about the activities of our leaders and workers. Common people see the activities of the government party. But some people do whatever they want without understanding. They engage in internal feuds among themselves, create unnecessary controversy and manifests unrestrained behaviour. They do not want to understand reality. People are disappointed by this. The workers of the government party are angry and saddened. Our problem is with our inner troubles. Outside conspiracies were there before; they are still there. Only by dealing with them Awami League is in today's position.

I liked the words. Awami League is an old, traditional and experienced political party. Over the ages, this party has fought various movements. This party has led the liberation war. Sheikh Hasina fought with Bangabandhu's Awami League all her life and established human rights. Today's Awami League is enjoying the benefits of her sacrifice. She has created a record of consecutive powers. Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina's Awami League knows how to agitate and how to disrupt a movement. The party has equal experience of being in and out of power for a long time. BNP does not have the strength to do anything with a strong stand against this party. Tiredness has developed within the BNP for being out of power for a long time. After Begum Khaleda Zia went to jail, there was despair. BNP is no longer in its previous position. They could not create any movement for the release of the party chairperson and stand by the leader. There is still no end to the problems inside and outside the party. Begum Khaleda Zia is now physically ill. She is surrounded by doctors, lawsuits and jails. General leaders and workers are worried about her physical condition. Another top leader of the party is in London. Bangladeshi politics cannot be led at the top level while sitting on foreign soil. Mirza Fakhrul is fighting to manage the team in this difficult environment. It is still not the time to tell how much he can do. However, as a gentleman, Mirza Fakhrul has established a position in the country and abroad and survived.

The political reality of ruling party and opposition parties are completely different. Awami League was in the opposition for a long time. They are in today's position after facing difficult situations including assault case and lawsuits. No one faced more adversity than Awami League. After August 15, 1975, this party was out of power for 21 years. 1975 to 1980 was a miserable time for the party. Then the leaders decided to bring Bangabandhu Daughter to support the party due to the difficult reality. Millions of Awami League workers welcomed the news of the leader's arrival. Enthusiasm was created in the team. These workers were Bangabandhu's trust. Sheikh Hasina also survives in their love. 1977 paved the way for Sheikh Hasina to take charge of Awami League. The conference was held on April 3 and 4 that year at the Eden Hotel in Dhaka. Sheikh Hasina was brought to a silent discussion among the party workers of that conference. In the conference, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury was one of the claimants of the party president. Syeda Zohra Tajuddin inaugurated the conference under the chairmanship of Molla Jalaluddin. Many leaders including Fanibhushan Majumder, Zahirul Qayoum directly opposed Mizan Chowdhury in that conference. Young leaders agreed to it. In that council Syeda Zohra Tajuddin was temporarily made the convener. Later, Abdul Malek Ukil took over as president. Abdur Razzak became the general secretary and Tofail Ahmed became the Organizing Secretary.

In that conference, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury paid tribute to Bangabandhu and said, 'The leader is gone but the workers are left behind. If a civilian government is established in the country, then it is possible for Awami League to form that government.' Mizan Chowdhury's speech encouraged the leaders and workers of Awami League. The idea was created around Sheikh Hasina. The next conference of Awami League was held on February 13-15, 1981. A year before that conference, the leaders started coming and going to Delhi. They requested Bangabandhu Daughter to take charge of the party. Dr. SA Malek, Zillur Rahman, IV Rahman, Abdus Samad Azad, Korban Ali, Amir Hossain Amu, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury and other senior leaders repeatedly went with the request. In the 1981 conference, Sheikh Hasina's name was announced as the president. There was no other alternative to keep the Awami League together and to energize the workers. After the conference many leaders including Abdul Malek Ukil, Dr. Kamal Hossain, Zillur Rahman, IV Rahman, Abdul Mannan of Tangail, Abdus Samad Azad, Korban Ali, Zohra Tajuddin, Sajeda Chowdhury, Golam Akbar Chowdhury, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed and many others went to Delhi again. Separately, SA Malek was the first to go. They met with the leader about the date of return to the country. Awami League leaders and workers all over the country were waiting for her return. Finally, the wait ended on May 17 of the same year.

Before Sheikh Hasina took the lead, there was apprehension about the future of Awami League. There were fears about survival. Sheikh Hasina took the helm of Awami League in a difficult environment. She was only 34 then. It was a challenge to lead such a big team at that age. Bangabandhu's daughter faced the challenge and brought the Awami League closer to power in 1986 and became the leader of the opposition party in the National Parliament. As in 1986, Awami League could not come to power in 1991 due to conspiracy. With infinite patience she tackled everything single-handedly. Awami League came to power in 1996 due to her single activism. After five years, in 2001, the conspiracy started again around Awami League. Awami League's preferred CEC was in the net of that plot. No support was received from the Awami League nominated president. After BNP-Jamaat came to power, riots started all over the country. Khaleda Zia's government had to send in the army to stop the violence. Operation Cleanheart was conducted across the country. The army went back after dealing with the situation. But the conspiracy against Sheikh Hasina was not over. This time, a grenade attack was carried out to kill Bangabandhu's daughter. The head of various agencies of the state has been accused in this incident and is now in jail. Allah saved her from death in a grenade attack on 21 August. Allah has kept her alive for people because she wants to do great work for the country.

Not only on August 21, Sheikh Hasina was repeatedly attacked after coming to the country in 1981, before 1996 and after 2001. She faced death. She was imprisoned. But she dealt the situation with extreme patience and handled everything inside and outside the party. Many people may have forgotten many realities. Awami League would have come to power in 1986 and 1991 if BAKSHAL was not formed under the leadership of Abdur Razzak. We didn't have to wait until 1996. She handled the challenges of Dr. Kamal Hossain, Mostafa Mohsin Montu. Brought Abdur Razzaq back home and abolished Razzak’s Bakshal. During and after the 1991 elections, we toured the country with Sheikh Hasina and saw people's love for her. She is responding to the love of the people of Bangladesh by coming to power with the surprise of development. Her philosophy, strong leadership of thought gave new height to Awami League and brought to a new level. Expectations have increased about Bangladesh in the country and abroad. Countries like Pakistan see Bangladesh as a role model of development and appreciate the Padma Bridge. This is the success of Sheikh Hasina; the success is of Bangabandhu's ideological style. People's expectations have increased for the healthy development of Bangladesh in the future. A new dream has been created. This achievement cannot be hindered by the childish behaviour of some fools. I don't think Sheikh Hasina herself will let anyone do that.

The over-enthusiasts destroy Awami League all the time and damaged reputation at home and abroad. Why would the party take responsibility of some ministers, MPs, leaders and bureaucrats? It is not the responsibility of an MP to beat. Committee Trade is not the responsibility of responsible affiliate leader. Many leaders and activists at the field level regretted the committee trade and expressed disappointment about not holding the conference. For two and a half years, the Central Jubo League could not protect the request of Cumilla South District Awami League President, General Secretary to make a committee. This organization is now of no good. One of Omar Farooq Chowdhury's critics said that he used to take decisions in haste. At the end of the day, he would organize and return home. Now it's the opposite. That day, an MP lamented about the Chhatra League. He said, they are taking money from both sides with the committee. Such committee trade is not the political culture of Awami League. If dynamic leadership is not created, if competent leaders do not come, the influence of government bureaucrats in politics will naturally increase. I have seen many bureaucrats become Awami Leaguers in the last 12 years. I have also seen it changed. Many people make new calculations after retirement. Forget about becoming a super Awami League during service. Some become civils. They speak on talk-shows and criticize the Awami League government. They express their displeasure if they do not get a contract appointment or a new five-year appointment to a commission. Forget what get got during their tenure. Awami League cannot depend on bureaucracy. Awami League is a political party based on labour. There are twelve types of people gathering in this group. But field workers are different. They have no demand; they worked for Bangabandhu and his daughter. They don't compare what they got and what they didn't. Because of that Awami League is surviving and will survive. As long as Sheikh Hasina is there, I don't see anything to worry about this party. She is handling everything single-handedly. She is the centre of trust.

The writer is the Editor, the Bangladesh Pratidin