Sheikh Mujib : A poet of Politics

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Monaem Sarker: Though Bangabandhu was the leader of a small and poor South Asian country, it is
doubtful whether any contemporary leader achieved world wide fame like him.
London’s Sunday Times dubbed him as “A poet of politics. A famous columnist from
Sunday Observer said “There is no other real Bengali leader like Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman in terms of his physique and facial features. The tall, handsome man has a
resounding voice. He can really mesmerise his people.”
His success was hardly limited to guiding Bengalis towards their independence. The
success he showed in re-building the war-devastated country within the span of only
three and a half years is remarkable. Yet one of the major criticisms is that he was a
rabble-rouser but a failure as a statesman and administrator. This was totally wrong.
If he did not return immediately after the independence, it would not only be
impossible to rebuild the country, but it may have been impossible to protect the
independence as well.
Let me give a small example of his success : Within three months of the war he
managed to persuade the Indian's Prime Minister Indira Gandi to withdraw their
troops. The West European countries could not remove the American soldiers and
their military establishments in 40 years. The Pakistani army had completely
destroyed the communication network of Bangladesh. Within a few months, 567
bridges including the Hardinge and Meghna Bridge were rebuilt. 1851 rail wagons
and passenger bogies were restarted. The Chittagong and Mongla sea ports were
cleared of mines and export-import business started. Within a week of the
independence the national flag, national song and the war song were decided. For the
peasants, it was decided that there will be no tax for holdings under 25 bighas. Within
a year, the Constitution was drafted and implemented. Pakistan did not manage to
make a constitution even in eight years.
Bangladesh gained membership of the United Nations in a few years. Communist
China needed 20 years to become a UN member. In 1976, Bangladesh became a
member of the Non-Aligned Movement. In the Algiers summit of NAM Countries
Bangabandhu and Bangladesh was declared as the New Rising Sun of South Asia.
Within a very short period of independence nearly two hundred countries recognised
Bangladesh. This is no mean feat of Bangabandhu. Even Pakistan recognised
Bangladesh and invited Bangabandhu to visit the country in 1974. All these were
possible because of Bangabandhu’s powerful personality, charisma and his role
befitting a statesman. The World Peace Council awarded him the prestigious Julio
Curie Peace Medal because of his contributions. The organisation also dubbed him as
“The Friend of the World.”

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When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated George Bernard Shaw said, “It is too
dangerous to be too good.” This applies to Bangabandhu as well. Of course
Bangabandhu made a few mistakes while running the country. However, he never
compromised with his principles. He never wavered from his ideals. If he had
compromised with the Yahya-led junta over his six-point programme, he could easily
become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Bangabandhu never hesitated to embrace even his sworn enemies. However, at times
he failed to recognise his true friends. Bangabandhu’s weaknesses can be analysed in
this way. When there was leadership crisis in AL’s two strong fronts– Chhatra
League and Sramik League – he did not become strong enough to end the crisis. This
widened the crack between the two fronts. The creation of JSD. just after
independence was a real part of conspiracy against Bangabandhu. Actualy JSD killed
Bangabandhu politicaly since they were former Chatro Leage, Awami Leagers and
Bangabandhu's followers. He considered Shiraz Shikder and some of the isolated,
militant left parties more dangerous for the country. He did not give due importance
to the ultra right cliques that were being patronised by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He
also accepted without screening each and every officer and soldier who had returned
from Pakistan.
Bangabandhu did not think much of the conspiracy of the Moshtaq group within the
party and did not give much recognition to the conspiracy of a highly ambitious
General Ziaur Rahman in the army. From various intelligence sources he was aware
of Zia’s controversial role as a sector commander during the War of Liberation; his
keeping in touch with the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and USA; keeping his Z
Force inactive towards the last leg of the War of Liberation; decision of General
Osmani to try him in Court Martial (Who was saved by Prime Minister Tajuddin
Ahmed) and lastly Zia’s dubious connections even after independence. Instead of
removing him from the army, he was promoted to the rank of General and given the
post of Deputy Chief of Staff.
On one side there was the Pakistan trained and Pakistani minded officers who looked
for opportunities to stage a military coup and on the other, a section of bureaucrats
unhappy with the idea of losing power to BAKSAL where district governors would
govern, quickly welcomed any idea of removing the government. Similarly,
businessmen who opposed socialism and nationalisation of banks and industries
showed interest in joining the opposition camp. And it hardly needs emphasising that
the defeated communal and fundamentalist forces of 1971 also rallied around them. It
is now known to all what role Bhutto government of Pakistan and Kissinger
administration of the USA played to create the famine of 1974 to make the Mujib
government unpopular. This also created the backdrop of the 1975 killing of Sheikh
Mujib and his family.
Now the question is, was Bangabandhu wrong in trying to win the hearts of his
enemies? Could the tragedy of 1975 be avoided had he been strong and tough as Fidel
Castro of Cuba or Nasser of Egypt? There would be difference of opinion on this. But
I feel that had he been tougher and had not drifted away from his real allies, the anti-
liberation forces could not have succeeded in gaining so much ground within such a
short time.
Having had the opportunity to watch Bangabandhu from close quarters, I feel that
there was a blend of both revolution and orderliness in his character. He gave

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leadership in a revolution to obtain independence. But he did not want to govern with
the spirit of revolution. Rather he thought of using his power and personal charisma
to reach the goal of attaining democracy and socialism in a peaceful manner. Which
Bangabandhu termed as democracy oppressed. The counter-revolutionaries seized
this opportunity to strike and destroy both-Bangabandhu and his newly created
Bangladesh.
In 7th months speech Bangabandhu said, ‘This time it is the fight for (Muktir
Sangram) independence, this time is the fight for freedom.’ But didn’t mean
independence as freedom too? Then why did hw mention freedom separately?
According to Bangabandhu, “A nation may not get freedom though it may attain
independence. Even after the ouster of foreign rulers from a country the common
masses may not become free from hunger, poverty, exploitation, illiteracy, disease
and repression. It is my wish that I would start a second revolution to free the people
from discrimination, inequality and poverty. Independence might have returned
democracy to us but this is not the democracy of those exploited. It is the democracy
of the gentlemen, educated and rich. This democracy gives gentlemen the right to say
some words about democracy from the books. But it does not arrange for food for the
poor, nor does it bring back smile in the face of the poor. Once the democracy of the
gentlemen settles down, I would start my work for the establishment of democracy
for the poor to end exploitation.”
But, even after 42 years of the killing of Bangabandhu, no one could bring any
evidence to prove the accusations. This has remained as propaganda only. Bangladesh
Krishak Soromik Awami League (BAKSAL) had existed only for 7 to 8 months.
Proper analysis of a government is not possible in such a short time. Had BAKSAL
lived for 2 to 3 years, critics could have said whether it was a single party rule or an
alliance of many parties.
After independence, communal politics and forming of religion based political party
was banned. But taking advantage of the loopholes in the laws of the land, political
parties like Muslim League, Jamat etc changed communal names and carried on with
their anti-independence activities. BAKSAL had taken under its fold all the political
parties that had taken part in the Liberation War and as a result all communal and
defeated political parties were thrown out. Many people today agree that even at the
cost of normal flow of democracy, it was necessary to take those steps in
consideration of the prevailing situation soon after the War of Liberation.
Giving emphasis on secularism in the constitution, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted
to free the country from the grip of communalism and fundamentalism. By including
socialism in the constitution he had made provisions for building a future socialist
Bangladesh. Secular Bengali nationalism was to create a non-communal Bangladesh.
And to ensure implementation of these steps he had introduced BAKSAL. But to
deny him the fruits of success, his opponents connived to kill him on 15 August 1975.
I have no doubt that if the assassination of 15 August had not taken place, Bangladesh
would not have been so poor and miserable in every sector. If Mahathir Mohammed
of Malaysia could brush aside the brow-beating of the imperialists then why
Bangabandhu, with his international image, could not have built a prosperous
Bangladesh?

13 August, 2017

সময়ের কথায় প্রকাশিত/প্রচারিত কোনো সংবাদ, তথ্য, ছবি, আলোকচিত্র, রেখাচিত্র, ভিডিওচিত্র, অডিও কনটেন্ট কপিরাইট আইনে পূর্বানুমতি ছাড়া ব্যবহার করা যাবে না।

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