From Six Points To Bangabandhu: How Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Became The Father Of Bangladesh

From Six Points To Bangabandhu: How Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Became The Father Of Bangladesh

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League in East Pakistan, has been reviled and ostracised as a traitor to Pakistan but on the other hand he has been practically worshipped as living god and the father of the nation by the people of Bangladesh. Mujib was the pied piper of Bengal and just like the mythical pied piper of Hamelin he played a unique melody, his voice had a unique sound, and a different tone and magical power that made him stand out as a giant among his contemporaries. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a politician but he managed to channelise the Bengali language and sent it into battle.

The great magic and mastery of words that he had is still visible in his speeches and the three books he wrote: Oshomapto Attojiboni (The Unfinished Memoirs), Karagarer Rojnamcha (The Prison Diaries) and Amar Dekha Noya Chin (The New China as I Saw). Only a small fraction of his thousands of speeches and statements from his vast political career have been recorded. Reading them and comparing them with his books, it is clear that he had a profound command over words and was a skilled craftsman in their use. Newsweek addressed him as “the poet of politics.” His command over the Bengali Language was phenomenal something akin to Winston Churchill’s mastery over the English Language and his use of words during the Second World War. I was fortunate enough to listen to his wonderful mastery of words, his presentation of emotions and his great art of playing to the galleries. Millions and millions of people came out on the streets of East Pakistan risking their lives to listen to this hero of Bengal. After Mohammed Ali Jinnah, no political leader has achieved such a fanatic love and following from the ordinary people of the land. During the elections of December 1970 Mujibur Rahman led the Awami league to win 165 seats in the national assembly and no party in our political history has ever achieved such a spectacular success in any elections even with the help and support of the establishment.

Born on 17 March 1920 in the village Tungipara under the Gopalganj sub-division in the district of Faridpur, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s father Sheikh Lutfar Rahman was a serestadar in the civil court of Gopalganj. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman passed his matriculation from Gopalganj Missionary School in 1942, IA (Twelfth Grade) from Islamia College, Calcutta in 1944 and BA from the same College in 1947. In 1946, Mujib was elected general secretary of the Islamia College Students Union. He was an activist of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League and a member of the All-India Muslim League Council from 1943 onwards. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a founding member of the East Pakistan Muslim Students League, one of the founding joint secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, general secretary of the Awami League (1953-1966), president of the Awami League (1966-1974), president of Bangladesh (in absentia from 26 March 1971 to 11 January 1972), Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1972-24 January1975), president of Bangladesh (25 January 1975-15 August 1975).

Mujib met HS Suhrawardy the future Prime Minister of Pakistan during his visit of Gopalganj and the experienced politician in him immediately recognised the true potential of the young Mujibur Rahman and took him under his patronage that became a lasting and durable relationship until the very last days of Suhrawardy. His earliest political career had stated in 1943 when he was an arts student when he became a member of the All India Muslim League Council. In 1946 he proved his political skills and acumen by managing the Muslim League election campaign in the district of Faridpur. In 1947 he moved to Dhaka after his graduation from college, took admission in the law college but could not complete his law degree. He became involved in politics and pretty soon was behind bars for his politics that clashed with the established political order of the day. Under his leadership the Awami League continued to gain popularity and pretty soon became a formidable Political force. Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Government on 12 October 1958 and kept in detention for about two years and a dozen cases were instituted against him but he was acquitted in all these cases by the high court of Dhaka.

In 1966 just after the war with India Mujibur Rahman caused an earthquake in the political circles of Pakistan when he presented his six point program which in his view was the solution to the economic and political problems of East Pakistan. The Six Points of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were:

1. “The constitution should provide for a federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the basis of Lahore Resolution & parliamentary form of government with supremacy of legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise”

2. “Federal government shall deal with only three subjects, for example Defence, Foreign affairs & Currency and all other residuary subjects shall vest in the federating units”

3. “Two separate but freely convertible currencies for two wings may be introduced or one currency for the whole country may be maintained. In this case effective constitutional provision is to be made to stop flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Separate banking reserve is to be made and separate fiscal and monetary policy to be adopted for East Pakistan”

4. “The power of taxation and revenue collection shall vest in the federating units and the federal centre will have a share in the State taxes for meeting their required expenditure”

5. “There shall be two separate accounts for foreign exchange earnings of the two wings. B. Earnings of East Pakistan shall be under the control of East Pakistan government and those of West Pakistan under the control of West Pakistan government. C Foreign exchange requirement of the federal government shall be met by the two wings either equal or in the ratio to be fixed. D. Indigenous products shall move free of duty between two wings. E. The constitution shall power the unit government to established trade and commercial relations, setup trade mission in, and enter into agreements with foreign countries”

6. “Setting up a military or paramilitary force for East Pakistan”

General elections were held on 10th December 1970 and the Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won a landslide victory in the National and the provincial assemblies. The first session of the National Assembly was postponed again and again giving rise to the fears that this was being done to deny the Awami league to form a government at the federal level. Mujib opposed the move to postpone the session of the assembly and declared that the results of the December elections should be treated as a referendum on the six point program as the victory of the Awami League was sweeping and complete and that the Yahiya Khan government will be responsible for any disaster due to the postponement of the assembly session. In the post-election period Mujib emerged as the top ranking political leader in the country and the uncrowned king of East Pakistan. He became the apple of every eye in Bengal, he epitomised the body and soul, and the hopes and aspirations of the Bengalis.

75 million people of Bangladesh were rolled into one man and the history of the nation was wrapped up in him. When he used to go out proselytising for his party, he was invariably greeted with full-throated slogan of "Long live Bangabandhu" and a pledge of allegiance. An advance notice of his public meeting invariably created a spatial problem. The venue was transformed into a sea of humanity spilling all over. He was an audio-visual treat to see and hears him speak. The people were madly in love with his voice, which produced a kind of compulsion that the listeners simply could not resist. They were enthralled, spellbound and inspired by the sweet and fiery music of his dramatically delivered speeches. When he was awaiting almost certain death in prison in West Pakistan during the nine months of 1971, his tape-recorded voice repeating his public speech of 7 March 1971 in the course of which he declared "the struggle this time is the struggle for liberation, this struggle is the struggle for independence" inspired and guided the freedom fighters throughout the war. The ‘Bajra-Kantha' (the thundering voice) gave the command and they obeyed and fought. From prison he led the country to victory. He had a talent for turning disasters into triumphs, which enabled him many a time to borrow life from death in order to stake it again and again for the people's cause.

This talent or moral strength emanate from his enduring love for the people and from his abiding faith in them. He was a confirmed democrat, a benign socialist, a liberal secularist, an uncompromising nationalist and after all and above all, a humanist. To many this was a difficult combination. With no pretension to infallibility, he loved to experiment with what seemed incomprehensible to others. And so it was that Bangladesh, which was Utopia for many, became a reality. Sheikh Mujib strongly believed that power came from the love and loyalty of the people and not from the barrel of a gun. Just three years after the independence of Bangladesh, Mujibur Rahman the father of the nation met a tragic end when on 15 August 1975 he was shot dead by some officers of the Bangladesh Army along with his entire family. His legacy remains as his hopes and dreams inspired the phenomenal development of Bangladesh and today Bangladesh is recognised as one of the world’s most progressive and peaceful countries.