The month August is etched in blood in our annals. Marked by sadness and sorrow, this month sparks raw emotion for us as a nation because it brings forth the memory of the saddest episode in our national life. Moreover, ever since the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members on 15 August, 1975, one after another dreadful incidents have been befalling on us in this month. For example, it was in this month in 2004 that a horrendous grenade attack was launched targeting the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In this same August in 2005 a countrywide wave of simultaneous bomb explosions was carried out. So, in this month of mourning I begin this article paying tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his martyred family members.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is our founding father and the Greatest Bengali of all time. He is very close to our hearts because he fought for the emancipation of the Bengalis throughout his life. In his every word and every action he exhibited pure love for the country and the people. Political and economic emancipation of the Bengali nation was his mission and vision – which is the cornerstone of Bangabandhu’s ideals.
So it is hoped that every activist of Bangladesh Awami League and its affiliate bodies will follow the ideology of Bangabandhu. And the AL must not give any space to those who don’t believe in Bangabandhu’s ideology.
Many say that we are followers of Bangabandhu’s ideology. But do we actually know what constitutes Bangabandhu’s ideology and go by those principles in our day to day life? The answer is in the negative for many. I want to believe that every citizen of the country possesses the spirit of the liberation war. And those who raise questions about the spirit of liberation war and our independence should better leave the country. They can go to any other country as per their preference. But those who want to join Awami League or are already associated with the party must do politics with full confidence in Bangabandhu's ideology and the worthy leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
Father of the Nation left behind his ideals for us both in written and unwritten forms. In this write up, I would like to present Bangabandhu’s ideals in three parts. Firstly, we can derive a treasure trove of ideals from his actions throughout his life which are not written; secondly, his written works hold valuable lessons for us; thirdly, he passed on some important policy matters through his second revolution.
We can get the unwritten ideals of Father of the Nation from the way he prepared himself amid various political circumstances, and the way he fought for political, economic and social emancipation of Bengalis, for achieving self-sovereignty and for establishing the rights of the Bengalis. He started all of these from his student life. Throughout his life, it was sheer love for the people that motivated him most. He felt the anguish of others through his heart. Bringing smile back on the face of his people was one of his core principles. His ideology was to ensure a better life for the people of Bengal by fulfilling their basic needs— food, clothing, shelter, education and health. Establishing an exploitation-free society for the Bengalis was his life-long dream. This dream is the manifestation of his ideals. One of his guiding principles was establishing a sovereign land for the Bengali nation where the Bengalis could make their own decisions, manage their own policies, and could practice their own Bengali culture. Giving economic freedom to the people, empowering the people, being secular, working for the people, selflessly devoting oneself to the cause of people are some of the core ideals of the Father of the Nation. That is why he struggled all his life as an idealist and selfless leader to realise the demands of the people. He earned the status of a heroic nation for Bengalis by fulfilling their dream of a thousand years of having an independent land. Bangabandhu said, “As a man, what concerns mankind concerns me. As a Bengalee, I am deeply involved in all that concerns Bengalees. This abiding involvement is born of and nourished by love, enduring love, which gives meaning to my politics and my very being.” In 1942, when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was young, his father gave him one insightful advice— “If you have sincerity of a purpose and honesty of purpose, you will never be defeated in life.” Throughout his life, he never forgot his father’s advice which inspired him to launch peaceful and successful protest movements against all kinds of injustice and oppression.
When Pakistan was established in 1947, the West Pakistanis continued to exploit, oppress, torture and persecute the Bengali nation. Then Bangabandhu established the Chhatra League in 1948, the year after the establishment of Pakistan, with the aim of peacefully protesting against Pakistani oppression. Bangabandhu founded the Awami Muslim League on 23 June 1949. Through these two organisations, the Father of the Bengali Nation successfully led the Language Movement of 1952, United Front election of 1954, Education Commission movement of 1962, declaration of historic Six Points Programme in 1966, prevention of Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968, and mass uprising of 1969. All of those were peaceful movements. In sequel to these movements, Bangabandhu delivered a historic, unforgettable speech on March 7, 1971, making a clarion call for economic emancipation and independence of the region. He called for peace in the speech which marked the beginning of a peaceful struggle against the Pakistani aggressors. But the Pakistani occupation forces swooped on the unarmed Bengalis in Dhaka at midnight on March 25, 1971 and killed thousands of innocent Bengalis. Right at that time, Bangabandhu’s declaration of independence gave the Bengali nation the direction of the war of liberation. The Pakistani army arrested Bangabandhu in the early hours of March 26 after the declaration of independence. After that the war of liberation began. After a long and bloody war of nine months, the much-cherished victory was achieved on 16 December 1971 after the defeat of Pakistan army. An independent Bengali nationhood was born in the world map under the leadership of Awami League – the supreme leader of which is the father of our nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
When Bangabandhu took over state power, he found nothing but scarcity all around. There was no adequate food stock, no crops in the fields and no reserve in the central bank. In fact, no bank was functional. Roads and railways were cut off, and seaports were destroyed. Schools and colleges were reduced to abandoned barracks. Sensing imminent defeat, the cowardice Pakistani Army had destroyed everything. Local and international conspirators were still plotting to foil the independence or to turn the country into a bottomless basket. Against all these odds, Bangabandhu managed to roll out a national budget worth Tk. 786 crore to Tk. 1084.37 crore. Ironically, the rapid progress in such a short period of time further increased the number of enemies of the country both in the local and international arena.
Local and foreign conspirators started hatching conspiracies against Bangabandhu by destabilising the country and creating artificial famine. Taking these issues into account Bangabandhu realised that if such an unhealthy atmosphere persists his desired outcome for the country cannot be fulfilled, or it will take a long time. So, at that point in time on 25 January 1975, Bangabandhu declared his second revolution for his countrymen. Bangabandhu passed on some of his ideals among us through this second revolution. In this second revolution, he wanted to build a corruption-free society, increase agricultural and industrial production, control population growth, achieve national unity and introduce a people-oriented system of governance. As a result of the Father of the Nation’s measure to control population growth, the population of Bangladesh today is less than that of Pakistan. His food production policy, which has been implemented by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has helped Bangladesh achieve self-sufficiency in food production. Bangladesh is also a frontrunner in fish production in the world. Bangabandhu had called for national unity in his second revolution. Today we can see that most of the political parties are united under the astute leadership of Sheikh Hasina except a handful of anti-liberation parties. The primary objective of Bangabandhu’s daughter is to establish a pro-people and corruption-free system of governance. Although this seems to be an uphill task, we are inching towards that goal. To her credit, the premier has made the war against corruption, drug and militancy a continuous process. However, had Bangabandhu not started population control then, we would not be able to come to this stage today. The Prime Minister has been repeatedly asking all concerned in the government to work for the people. Thanks to her all out efforts, Bangladesh has been able to manage the Covid-19 pandemic better than many other developed countries, maintaining GDP growth rate above 5 per cent where the economies of many other countries of the world are collapsing.
Therefore, whoever wants to do politics of Bangladesh Awami League must uphold Bangabandhu's ideology. Bangabandhu is the founding father of the Bengali nation. Hence he doesn’t belong to any single party. Anyone can be motivated by his ideals and practice them in their day to day life. But there is no scope for anyone belonging to the party founded by the Father of the Nation to forego his ideals.
The anti-liberation elements and their cohorts both inside and outside the country always feared Bangabandhu’s ideology. When this group of people realised that Bangladesh was moving forward holding aloft Bangabandhu’s ideology and Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was becoming an internationally acclaimed leader, they became desperate to annihilate him. Thus, the gruesome assassination was carried out on August 15, 1975. On that day the anti-liberation forces killed almost all members of Bangabandhu’s family including women, children, would-be mothers and senior citizens. If they didn’t want to wipe out Bangabandhu’s ideology as well as his legacy, why did they kill the whole family?
But, by God’s grace Bangabandhu’s two worthy daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehena survived the massacre as they were abroad at that time, and subsequently, appeared before the nation as the torchbearers of Bangabandhu’s ideals. And the people, especially those who loved Bangabandhu have kept his ideals alive by clinging to them even after his demise. From then on, after much struggle and sacrifice, Jononetri Sheikh Hasina steered the party to power and took the country to a respectable position in the world stage by upholding Bangabandhu’s ideals.
In the end, I would like to say that Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu is not the slogan of any particular party. We have achieved independence with the slogan Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu. So, this slogan is the slogan of Bengal and Bangladesh. All citizens of Bangladesh, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, and profession must say this slogan aloud. This is the ideology of Bangabandhu as well as that of Bangladesh and the Bengali nation.
The only purpose of my writing today is to inspire the young generation who are interested in politics or are doing politics or want to be involved in the politics of the Awami League, so that they do not fall prey to the lust for power and greed. They must dedicate themselves to the service of people by holding Bangabandhu’s ideals in heart. Through them the ideals of Bangabandhu will remain eternally afloat in this land of Bengal. Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.
The writer is the Vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University, Bangladesh