In response to a call by the governor of East Bengal, Awami League formed the provincial government in September, 1956,
with Ataur Rahman Khan as the Chief Minister and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Industries, Commerce and Labour Minister. During the 2 year rule, this government attained a number of achievements which include the tackling of food crisis, the release of the political prisoners, giving ‘test relief’ to the landless peasants, the granting of financial aid to the families of the Language Movement martyrs, the declaration of February 21 as a government holiday, the observance of Pahela Baisakh as Bangla New Year’s Day, the establishment of a veterinary college in Mymensingh, Fenchuganj Fertilizer Factory and Savar Dairy Farm and Film Development Corporation (FDC) etc. Bangabandhu played a key role in all these successes.
Later Sheikh Mujib stepped down from the ministerial responsibility so that he could work for strengthening the organization. Almost simultaneously with the formation of government in East Bengal by AL, the party under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Shhrawardy and formed the government consisting only 13 members of Awami League and was backed by the Republican Party. But it lasted only 13 months (12 September 1956-11 October 1957). During this short period of rule, the Suhrawardy government successfully curbed the influence of civil and military bureaucracy on the administration. Moreover, with a view to giving the fledgling democracy a firm footing, Suhrawardy stressed the need for holding a general election in his very first address to the nation. These bold steps taken by the Shurawardy government, particularly its pledge to hold a general election unnerved the ruling clique and its President Iskander Mirza. It was at his behest that Republican Party (a party that Mirza himself had helped found) withdrew its support from Suhrawardy govt. Immediately after this, President Iskander Mirza forced Suhrawardy to resign.
In the meantime, a feud rose between Awami League stalwarts Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhashniover the foreign policy of Pakistan. Bhasani was in fovour of a non-aligned foreign policy, while Suhrawardy fovoured strong links with the powerful countries of the West, particularly with America. And, Maulana Bhasani resigned from his post of the party president on March 18, 1957; within a few days, 9 out of the 37 members of the Working Committee followed Bhasani’s suit. And in July, Bhasani formed a new party named National Awami Party. On such a volatile situation, Sheikh Mujib’s relentless saved the Awami League.