Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spent most of his life in politics outside state power. He struggled against colonial and undemocratic regimes – first against the British for nearly seven years and later against Pakistan for 24 years – to establish the economic, political and cultural rights of the Bengalis. If we look at his long arduous struggles and three and a half years rule in independent Bangladesh, we will find that he emerges as an exceptional figure to shape the lives of Bengalis and others, transforming the world into a better place. Bangabandhu had a few specific political ideologies and goals and he worked consistently to achieve them. Through his accomplishments, he presented before us and for the world a philosophy of love, peace and freedom.
In my opinion, Bangabandhu was the greatest politician and philosopher the world has ever produced. He acquired his philosophical belief from his love for the people and the country, unusual courage, honesty and sincerity, peace and freedom. He has his own philosophy. He did not follow Marxist or Maoist philosophy to bring about a socio-political change. Bangabandhu declared that he would not import socialism of typical type from other countries, rather he would form a socialist society keeping democracy, social justice and people’s rights undisturbed. The aim was to transform the society by establishing socialism in a democratic way and make it functional.
Bangabandhu had an enormity of love for his people and the country. His people were dear to him. It was his people who were his strength and source of power. His biggest weakness was also his love for people. In reply to a question of British TV journalist David Frost, “What is your strength and weakness?” during an interview on 18 January 1972 Bangabandhu said, “My greatest strength is the love for my people, my greatest weakness is that I love them too much.”
Frost later asked, “When you see them digging a grave and you think of everything you have to leave behind you, do you think of your country, or for instance of your wife and children first?” Bangabandhu replied, “I feel for my country and my people and then my family. I love my people more. I suffered for my people and you have seen how many people love me.”
Bangabandhu always stood by the poor people. He was involved in social and political movements, such as the movement of the poor peasants against the introduction of Jinnah Fund, prohibiting inter-district trade of rice known as the ‘cordon’ system. He also supported the movement of the fourth-class employees of Dhaka University and was imprisoned in 1949.
Bangabandhu throughout his whole life was involved in politics and movement and talked about people’s emancipation from exploitation and oppression, but he never deviated from his stance of peaceful non-violent movements. He transformed the Bengali nationalist movement into a movement for independence, following the democratic norms and culture from 1947 to 1970. The movement turns into an armed struggle in March 1971 at a time when the Pakistani military junta government repudiated handing over power to Awami League, the party that secured the absolute majority in the 1970 election.
Bangabandhu practiced honesty throughout his entire life. He was honest of the purpose of emancipating people and this lesson he has got from his family. His father Sheikh Lutfar Rahman once said, “If you don’t study you won’t become a good human being. And one other thing: if you have sincerity of purpose and honesty of purpose you will never be defeated.” (The Unfinished Memoirs, Page 22). Bangabandhu never forgot this advice.
Bangabandhu not only thought about Bangladesh or regional peace, he was for global peace and against the race of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. His speech in the 29 UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 25 September 1974 ushered in fresh ideas and policies to build a brave new world free of economic inequalities, social injustice, military aggression and threats of nuclear war. He said, “Peace is absolutely necessary for the protection of the existence of mankind. The hopes and aspirations of all men and women in the world are embodied in this peace. Peace can never be sustainable if not based on justice.”
Bangabandhu was a visionary leader. He thought that Bangladesh must have to adopt science and technology to help expedite building poverty-free, happy and prosperous ‘Shonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal). He did not even forget to seek international cooperation and partnership in resources and technology to alleviate people’s suffering at the UNGA. He said, “There is no room for doubt at all that international cooperation and partnership in resources and technology can facilitate our task, can alleviate people’s sufferings. However, emerging countries like ours should have confidence in their own efficiency. It should be kept in mind that only through the united and concerted effort of the people, we can be able to reach our specific goal, can build a better future.” “This future will be free from the threats of nuclear war. By the equitable distribution of all the wealth and technical knowledge of the world, the door to such welfare can be opened where everyone will have the minimum assurance of a happy and honest life,” he added.
The conspirators have killed such a great leader and the greatest Bengali of all time who fought for the cause of people and brought independence. However, they could not erase his name. His philosophy and ideology are with us. A person could be an ideal man if he followed his philosophy and ideology. The freedom-loving people can get the taste of freedom if they follow the philosophy of Bangabandhu.
The writer is a Member of Parliament and Minister of State for the ICT Division