14613Published on June 11, 2023
Bangladesh Awami League is the root of all achievements the country has – from the rise of nationalism among the people, mass movements against the thousand-years slavery with the spirit of the national slogan ‘Joy Bangla', to the people’s trust in boat symbol and the ultimate victory over colonial rule through nine months of Liberation War. The Bengali nation successfully chased so many obstacles with the leadership of the Awami League that it awakened millions of people to get rid of the darkness of deprivation and exploitation. The Awami League is not just a political party, but it also the nucleus of the nation and the lifeblood of freedom. It became a party of the county’s mass people thanks to the tireless work of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Bengali nation. He became the core man of the party that united the whole nation and led Bangladesh to its independence. Then his daughter, Sheikh Hasina restored the country’s democracy and people’s rights following the dark chapter of the assassination of Bangabandhu. So modern Bangladesh, Awami League and Sheikh Hasina are the parallel names today. This 74-year old party helped Bangladesh emerge as a wonderful country on the world map.
Awami League and Bangladesh
It was 1947 when India was divided. A few days before the partition based on religion, Bengali student leaders who were studying in Kolkata continued to meet to discuss the future. A large number of them returned to Dhaka soon after the partition. Another group returned home after meeting at the Sirajudaula Hotel in Kolkata. Popular student leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was already having a busy time after his return to Dhaka to organize a new youth organization. As a result, on September 7 (1947), an organization named the Democratic Youth League began its journey. The main objective was to create a social system of communal harmony in the new country, avoiding both the radical left or the radical right.
But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman faced an internal feud initially that prompted him to form another organization with students and thus he came up with the Students' League. He created a platform for the youth and joined the Awami League himself. Then he continued to run relentlessly through every district to reach people across the country. He quickly became known as the spokesperson of the Awami League in the country. He became the general secretary of the party at the age of 33. But during his journey towards independent Bangladesh, he continued to serve as the party's guide.
Formation of Student League & Campaigns across the Country
Young Sheikh Mujib, from his experiences in involving in mainstream politics in undivided India, realized that there was no alternative to form a dynamic organization to uphold the cultural, political and economic rights of the people of East Bengal. That is why, on January 4, 1948, he held a meeting with his activists at Fazlul Huq Hall of Dhaka University to form a convening committee of the Students' League (East Pakistan Muslim). He took a post as a member of the 14-member committee. It was Sheikh Mujib, a student leader who was involved in student politics in Kolkata, who made it possible to form committees in almost all districts of the country within the next month of the formation of the Students' League.
Meanwhile, State Language Movement Council enforced a general strike on March 11 (1948) demanding that Bengali be the state language. Student League leaders came out as one of the most active organizations of the council. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding leader of the Students' League, travelled to various districts to form public opinion in support of Bangla as the state language. He was then arrested by the police on March 11 for joining a protest in Dhaka. But the government was forced to release him on March 15. On March 16, Bangabandhu chaired a rally at Bottala in Dhaka University after he was released from jail. Dhaka situation got volatile. East Bengal Chief Minister and Muslim League leader Khawaja Nazimuddin sought the army's help in controlling the situation. Finally, Major General Ayub Khan, GOC, East Pakistan, brought his forces and brought the situation under control.
On March 21 (1948), Pakistan's Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah spoke at the then Race Course ground in Dhaka. There he declared that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan. A group of young people led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took no time to protest immediately. Jinnah then said the same at the special convocation of Dhaka University on March 24. But he fell silent facing outrages from students. Sheikh Mujib was arrested on September 11 for his relentless involvement in the language movement. He was released in January 1949.
Becoming the Influential leader of Awami League from Founder of Student League
After joining the Bangla language movement, Sheikh Mujib was arrested again on April 19, 1949, for supporting the protest of class IV employees of Dhaka University. He was blacklisted by the police mainly for his role in the language movement. That is why he was taken to jail for various reasons. This time, even though he entered jail as a student leader, his student politics ended in jail. However, on June 23, the East Pakistan Awami (Muslim) League was formed at Rose Garden in KM Das Lane while Sheikh Mujib was in jail but he became the founding joint general secretary of the party for his leadership. On June 27, he was released from jail as a top leader of the Awami League.
Then, in September, the first Council of the Students' League was held which was presided over by Sheikh Mujib. He formed a new and full-fledged committee of the Students' League. Since then, he himself focused on promoting and campaigning for the Awami League. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani was the president of the organization and Shamsul Haque is the general secretary, but Sheikh Mujib had to work for the gathering of party workers across the country. Meanwhile, he also regularly instructed Students’ League leaders to press home the demand for language rights.
Meanwhile, on September 11, 1949, the Awami League held a public rally in Armanitola, Dhaka, to protest against the price hike of essential commodities. At the end of the meeting, both the party president and general secretary were arrested from the procession. Sheikh Mujib avoided the arrest as he was on a visit to West Pakistan to meet Suhrawardy for party activities. He persuaded Suhrawardy to intensify the democratic movement in East Bengal. Police however arrested him after he returned to Dhaka. At that time, many Awami League leaders resigned fearing police action and arrest. Many became inactive. As a result, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the key face of the party at the age of 30 because of his foresight and leadership. Impressed by his words, the last Prime Minister of the United Bengal Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy formed the All Pakistan Awami Muslim League on March 18 and 19 that created a political atmosphere all over Pakistan. At the initiative of Sheikh Mujib, the Awami League became a national party of entire Pakistan from just a provincial one.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy even later bought an office on Ramakrishna Mission Road for Ittefaq newspaper to support the Awami League's party campaign upon his faith in Sheikh Mujib. The newspaper continued through a trustee body and Sheikh Mujib was one of the members of this trustee board.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and jailed for 26 months. He was released from jail in April 1952 and he made political visits to most districts of the country. Since the party president Bhashani was still in jail, young leader Sheikh Mujib worked tirelessly for nearly four months to rebuild the committee across the country. At the age of 32, he became a poster of the Awami League across the country.
Bengali Language Movement and Sheikh Mujib
On January 27, 1952, when Pakistan's Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin in a speech at Paltan Maidan said that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan, the situation went tense. On February 21, students and people marched in violation of Section 144. The Dhaka streets were covered with the drops of blood of the martyrs.
Sheikh Mujib was put in jail this time. But as he was in the prison hospital, he somehow managed to contact the student leaders. At that time, he called the student leaders and advised them to form an all-party movement council and also informed the Awami League leaders about it. With his instruction, the Students' League convener Ghulam Mahbub was made the convenor of the Sangram Parishad too. He was shifted to Faridpur jail on February 15 after the government realized Sheikh Mujib's move. Earlier, he communicated with the student leaders and fully supported a strong agitation and started his hunger strike in jail from February 16.
However, on February 28, the Pakistani government was forced to release Sheikh Mujib from Faridpur jail. He returned to Dhaka in the second week of April 1952. Both the President and General Secretary of the Awami League were still imprisoned. So Sheikh Mujib convened a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Awami League to restore momentum in the party's activities. He was given the charge of acting general secretary at the meeting.
United Front Elections & Victory of Awami League
After a prolonged prison life, Awami League leaders continued to be released around 1953. That same year, on July 9, the first Council of the Awami League was held. A committee with Maulana Bhashani as president and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as general secretary (East Pakistan) was declared. At one point, Sheikh Mujib invited Sher-e Bangla AK Fazlul Haque to join the Awami League. Responding to Mujib's call, he supported the Awami League at a public meeting in Chandpur.
But later he formed the Kishak-Shramik Party. Earlier in 1937, his Kishak-Praja Party gained huge popularity in the provincial elections of India. However, for the first time since the creation of Pakistan, he became active in politics and formed an alliance with the Awami League on December 4, 1953, with his party. As a result, the United Front was formed under the leadership of the Awami League. The other parties with it are the Ganatantri Party, and Nijam-e-Islam. In 1954, the United Front participated in the Awami League-led elections with a boat symbol.
All Pakistan Awami League President Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was elected as the President of the United Front. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, general secretary of the East Pakistan Awami League, continued his relentless campaign in every part of Bengal. In this provincial election, people ignored the hardcore religious propaganda and voted for human rights in the boat symbol. As a result, the alliance won 228 of the 237 Muslim seats. The Awami League alone got 143 seats.
Government of Awami League
On April 3, 1954, the United Front formed the government, relying on the Awami League, exposing the Muslim League’s politics with religion. But on May 31, 1954, the United Front government was dismissed in a span of just less than two months due to a conspiracy by Pakistanis. At the same time, Iskandar Mirza was appointed governor of East Bengal by the Central Government of Pakistan. 35 members of the East Pakistan Legislative Council, including Sheikh Mujib, were arrested. In February 1955, the United Front was dissolved and the Awami League emerged as a single majority party.
Meanwhile, based on the people of Bengal's verdict on non-communalism in the United Front elections, the party excluded the word Muslim from Awami Muslim League to Awami League in its council on October 22-23, 1955 with the direct initiative by its General Secretary Sheikh Mujib to open its access to all people in the country. Tajuddin Ahmad was included as a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Awami League for the first time. Then, in September 1956, the Awami League formed the government of the Provincial Council. Awami League Vice President Ataur Rahman Khan became the chief minister. In the cabinet, Sheikh Mujib was given the charge of Minister of Industry, Trade, Labour, Prevention of Corruption and Rural Development.
But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman resigned from the cabinet at the end of May to devote time to the party work. He became involved in strengthening the Awami League at the grassroots level across the country.
Awami League's Revival amid Military Gunfire
In September 1956, All Pakistan Awami League President Husyen Shaheed Suhrawardy took over as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called the East Pakistan Awami League Council on June 13 and 14, 1957 over the dispute over Suhrawardy's foreign policy. The council approved Suhrawardy's foreign policy by a huge margin. Meanwhile, Bhashani left the Awami League and formed a new party due to differences of opinion on various issues. As a result, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Tarqbagish was given the charge of acting president from the party's council. Meanwhile, after 13 months of government operations, the Awami League cabinet fell due to a conspiracy by President Iskander Mirza and Suhrawardy stepped down as prime minister in October 1957.
It may be recalled that Pakistan's general elections were scheduled to be held in February 1959. Iskander Mirza conspired to fear that the election would be held smoothly if a democratic Awami League leader like Suhrawardy remained in the post of Prime Minister. He later enacted Martial Law in October 1958. Sheikh Mujib was arrested on October 12. Army Chief Ayub Khan took over state power on October 27. Political activities were banned in the country. Senior leaders chose a safe life by announcing retirement to avoid arrest.
But after walking out of jail, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed an anti-military movement. As a result, he was arrested again. At that time, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared Ayub Khan’s so-called basic constitution unacceptable. He had already taken a final decision on Bangladesh's independence. At this time, a relationship was formed between various professionals, including political leaders, who remained steadfast on the question of independence. During the stagnant period of politics. Many called Mujib's dynamic communication process as Mujib network.
After Suhrawardy died in late 1963, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a single-led revival to the party. Senior leaders were against carrying out these political activities under the military government at the risk of their lives. But in February 1964, a council meeting of the Awami League was held in all the districts under the bold initiative of Sheikh Mujib. Maulana Abdur Rashid was given the post of president due to his seniority and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself remained the party’s general secretary. However, he rose as the torchbearer of the party soon after breaking a few years of political stagnation. Holding his hand, a new Awami League started making its journey.
Six-Point Demand & Awami League President Sheikh Mujib
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman placed his historic Six-Point demand in 1966. On February 5, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as general secretary of the Awami League, raised a Six-Point programme at a meeting of the opposition’s subject committee conference in Lahore. But it was not accepted. As a result, he returned to Dhaka and approved it from the party at a meeting of the working committee of the Awami League on February 21.
On March 18 and 19, a new committee of the East Pakistan Awami League was formed with Sheikh Mujib as president and Tajuddin Ahmad as general secretary. Awami League President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formally raised the Six-Points on March 23. Mass campaigns started across the country in support of the Six-Point Programme.
But Pakistani dictators and politicians tried to counter the mass uprising violently with weapons. The Awami League announced a strike programme on June 7 in protest. On the contrary, on that day, Pakistanis imposed Section 144. But along with students, the workers also took to the streets in support of six points. But police shot dead at least 11 people that was followed by mass arrests. Awami League leaders continued to be detained one after the other.
Even the people in the rural village became vocal in favour of Six-Point demands. Pakistanis were terrified. So Bangabandhu was arrested where he had gone to hold a rally. Sheikh Mujib held 32 public meetings in different districts in just one and a half months. He was then arrested on May 8, 1966, and jailed for a long time.
All Pakistan Awami League Reconstituted to Pave Way for Liberation
In the aftermath of the Six-Point announcement, leaders of other parties, including many in the Awami League, formed a politically unprogrammed alliance (PDM) to avoid arrest. They even tried to destroy the Six-Point demand by announcing eight points. As a result, the Awami League Council was called in 1967 and all but a few voted against joining the alliance. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was then elected president of the All Pakistan Awami League and Abul Hasnat Muhammad Qamaruzzaman as general secretary to ensure the political momentum of the Awami League.
Following the announcement of the Six-Point by the Supreme Leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the course of Bengal politics changed. Other senior leaders of the time failed to understand the emotions and aspirations of the common people of Bengal. Due to only opposing the Six-Point programme, many senior and veteran politicians lost their appeal among mass people and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman appeared as the sole locomotive of Awami League and spokesperson for Bengali people. The Six-Point became the charter of the freedom of the Bengali nation and Awami League became the most trusted party to bring a unique taste of freedom as the main message of the Six-Point programme was the freedom and liberation of the Bengali nation.
Replying to a question by East Pakistan National Awami Party (NAP) Chief Professor Muzaffar Ahmad after the Six-Point announcement, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said, "Hey Mia, you don't understand? There is only one clause. I turned around a little.” Though the Six-Point talks political autonomy in the first two points and economic freedom in the next four points, it was the ultimate demand for Bengali’s autonomy and independence. Based on this Six-Point demand, Awami League won Pakistan's only and the first national election by a landslide victory in 1970.
Agartala Conspiracy Case & Uprising
West Pakistanis were scared of the Six-Point movement. Mainly afraid of Bangabandhu's brave leadership and skyscraper popularity, he was put in jail by the Pakistani military government. But by then the mantra of national liberation, that he had planted, spread to the hearts of every Bengali people. So Bangabandhu's physical absence never hindered the creation of his ideological opinion in support of freedom. The agitation continued even after Bangabandhu went to jail. The whole nation became overwhelmed by the dream of freedom based on the Six-Point demand.
In such backdrops, in early 1968, a case named 'State vs Sheikh Mujib and Others' (known as Agartala conspiracy case) was filed against Bangabandhu. On January 18, 1968, while in prison, he was shown arrested on a fresh sedition charge. The complaint said, “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others are hatching conspiracies against the integrity of Pakistan”. The military government sued 35 persons, including Bangabandhu, for continuing his communication with various professional groups, including Bengali Army-Naval Air Force officers, to form and run an independent Bangladesh state. At this time, people across the country started chanting, “Jeler Tala Bhangbo, Sheikh Mujib ke Anbbo (We will break the lock of jail, We will bring Sheikh Mujib back)”. Bangabandhu and Bangladesh became parallel names in the Bengali mind.
Later, on February 22, 1969, Pakistan's military president and self-proclaimed field marshal Ayub Khan was forced to withdraw the case in the face of intense public anger. On the same day, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who became an abstract symbol of Bengali aspirations, was released from prison. The next day, on February 23, he was awarded the title 'Bangabandhu' at a large public rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka. On the same day, 70 million Bengalis publicly cheered Bangabandhu as the supreme leader to form an independent Bengali land and a Bangladesh state. Ayub Khan fell on March 25, 1969, and General Yahya Khan came to power following the mass upsurge. On the other hand, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the undisputed leader of Bengali.
1970 Elections: Victory of Awami League & Final Stage of Emergence of Bangladesh
Bangabandhu came out of jail and raised his strong voice against the military dictatorship. Seven crore people joined him. Pakistani juntas were forced to hold national elections in the face of huge public demands. Bangabandhu promised to turn Bengali, which has become a crematorium for the exploitation of Pakistanis, into golden Bengali again. He promised to implement Six-Point for an exploitation-free state. As a result, everyone, irrespective of castes and religions, voted exclusively for the Awami League’s boat symbol. And thus, Awami League emerged as a majority party in the whole of Pakistan by winning 160 of the 300 seats in Pakistan's national assembly. In addition, the party became the only place of confidence for Bengali hopes and aspirations by winning 288 seats out of 300 in the Provincial Council of East Pakistan.
In 1970, the Awami League won a total of 167 of the 313 seats, including 7 seats reserved for the national election. Out of the total 310 seats in the Provincial Council, Awami League got 298, including 10 reserved seats. The Awami League emerged as the only acceptable party for the people of Bengal. So, Awami League chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman continued to go on a democratic path along with the two-era movement for establishing independent Bangladesh. But Pakistanis conspired to reject the people's verdict and Bangabandhu started preparing the countrymen for the final War of Independence.
1971 Non-Cooperation Movement & Liberation War Under The Leadership of Awami League
While addressing a public meeting at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on January 3, 1971, Bangabandhu, as the elected people's representative, promised to deal with any Pakistani menace and conspiracy. Awami League party members vowed to form a regime based on Six-Point and remain loyal to the people. Bangabandhu was already declared as the nation's leader and became the legitimate Supreme Command of the Bengali nation. But Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Yahya Khan continued hatching conspiracies. Protests erupted across Bengal on March 1 when Yahya Khan announced an indefinite suspension of the National Assembly meeting. On the following day, a nationwide strike was called at an emergency meeting of the Awami League Working Council chaired by Bangabandhu. The non-cooperation movement started across the country. On March 7, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, from the public sea of Race Course Maidan (Now Suhrawardy Udya) announced, "This year's struggle is our struggle for liberation, this time the struggle for freedom".
He said, "From today, the Secretariat, Supreme Court, High Court, Judge’s Courts, and government and semi-government offices shall remain shut. Only banks ma open for two hours daily for business transactions. But no money shall be transmitted from East to West Pakistan.”
An undeclared but alternative government led by Bangabandhu started functioning in Bangladesh. Dhanmondi House No. 32 was used as the residence of the alternative government chief. Apart from the military camps, no order from the Government of Pakistan was obeyed anywhere else in 55,000 square miles of Bangladesh. The Flag of Pakistan was taken down from all places. The red-green symbol, which was mapped to Bangladesh, were hoisted. The whole country continued at the command of Bangabandhu. Awami League voluntary forces took control of the law and order situation in the country. The Sangram Parishad was formed under the leadership of the Awami League in every village.
In such a context, Pakistani juntas started genocide on the sleeping Bengali nation last night on March 25. As a result, Bangabandhu made a clear declaration of independence through wireless in the early hours of March 26. He was arrested soon after. He was taken to a secret jail in West Pakistan. But after Bangabandhu's independence was declared, the whole Bengali nation risked their lives and jumped to fight for freedom in empty hands. Meanwhile, Awami League leaders formed the Government of Bangladesh on April 10, declaring Bangabandhu as president and supreme leader. They took oath at Mujibnagar in Mehrpur on April 17. Tajuddin Ahmad took over as the Prime Minister of this government and Syed Nazrul Islam as vice president. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Supplies, Relief and Rehabilitation and Agriculture was formed with M. Mansoor Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman in charge of the Ministry of Finance, Industry and Commerce. The whole world heard the uproars of Bengali people – ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu’
After nine long months of the war, Bangladesh gained independence on December 16, 1971. Bangabandhu was then released from a Pakistani jail on January 8, 1972. He returned home on January 10. He took over as Prime Minister on January 12. Then, first, he arranged for the allied soldiers to be sent back. On March 12, 1972, Indian soldiers left Bangladesh for India. Bangabandhu focused on reconstructing the war-ravaged country.
Four Principles & The Unfinished Battle for Reconstructing Sonar Bangla
The Bengali nation broke the chain of slavery for thousands of years by holding the hands of the Awami League with much-awaited freedom. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, focused on rebuilding the country. He established a newly independent Bangladesh in the international arena. He started constructing the infrastructure with limited resources available following the Liberation War. He also formulated various national policies to build a beautiful nation in the future. The Constitution was also enacted initially in 1972 under the leadership of the Awami League government of Bangabandhu with nationalism, socialism, secularism and democracy as the four basic principles of the state. Bangabandhu moved towards building a technology-based agricultural and industrial society.
In October 1974, Bangabandhu appointed AHM Qamaruzzaman as president and Zillur Rahman as general secretary in the Awami League council. Early next year, he focused on setting up a national government to guide the country on the path of rapid development.
During his three-and-a-half years tenure, Bangabandhu almost decorated the country from many internal obstacles and international conspiracies. But the darkest history of the nation came on August 15 night in 1975 when the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the best Bengali of thousands of years, was brutally killed with his family.
Crackdown against Awami League after Murder of Bangabandhu along with Family
After the killing of Bangabandhu, Shonar Bangla continued to be wound up in the violent claws of dictators and a massive crackdown was run on Awami League leaders and activists across the country. Bangabandhu's two daughters - Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana - luckily survived as they were abroad fateful night on August 15. Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina took the helm at the call of Awami League leaders amid the dictatorship regime and conspiracies against the party. On May 17, 1981, she dared her life to return home for the sake of the party and the countrymen.
Due to the violence of dictators and anti-independence aggression, it was unwritten to openly name the Awami League or Bangabandhu till 1980. As a result, it was not easy for the Awami League to resist these obstacles and turn around in the political scenario. But people wanted a revival of the Awami League. So in February 1981, Sheikh Hasina was unanimously given the charge of president of the party's council. Bangabandhu’s daughter then returned to the country on May 19 as the head of the party. This time, the tyrannical government and the anti-liberation miscreants left no stone unturned to kill her. From then to 1990, she led the mass uprising against dictatorial Ershad on the streets for nine consecutive years, taking her life into her hands every day.
Sheikh Hasina was detained and imprisoned every year in these nine years. She was detained by the military government on February 15, 1983. She was twice kept under house arrest in February and November 1984. She was detained in March 1985 again and under house-arrested for nearly three months, for 15 days in October 1986. She was arrested in November 1987 and kept under detention for a month. She was further detained and put under house arrest in February 1989. Sheikh Hasina was transferred to Bangabandhu residence in November 1990.
Sheikh Hasina survived numerous times murder attempts plotted by state-owned power. On November 10, 1987, police opened fire at her during a rally at Secretariat where some Awami League leaders and activists were killed. Even an attempt was made to pick up Sheikh Hasina along with her car with a crane in front of the National Press Club. On January 24, 1988, the government's police forces charged batons and opened fire at Sheikh Hasina rally in front of the Chittagong Court building, leaving at least 30 Awami League leaders dead. She was shot twice while addressing Laldighi maidan. She was targeted at her car again on her way back after the public meeting. On the midnight of August 10, 1989, members of the Freedom Party, a group of dictators and Bangabandhu killers, fired bullets and hurled grenades at the 32 residence in Dhanmondi to kill Sheikh Hasina.
Re-establishment of Parliamentary Democracy with Sheikh Hasina's Hand
It was under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina that the Bangladesh Awami League participated in the 1991 national elections. The leader of the opposition in the fifth National Assembly, Sheikh Hasina, was elected leader of the opposition. At that time, the Awami League-led by Sheikh Hasina pressured the president-ruled government to change the system and restore the parliamentary government. As a result, parliamentary democracy returned. But the repression of the Awami League did not stop. On September 11, 1991, she was shot at during the by-election to the National Assembly. In 1994, continuous bullets were fired at her compartment room at Ishwardi Railway Station. Yet Sheikh Hasina has never shied away from demanding and getting people's votes and rights.
He later formed a mass movement against a farce election by the BNP in February 1996. On March 30, the then Khaleda Zia's government was forced to resign in the face of the agitation. And in the seventh parliamentary election held in June, the Awami League formed the government with a landslide victory under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of democracy. After 21 years of stalemates, Bangladesh started moving again.
As Prime Minister, she signed a 30-year contract for sharing water to the long-pending Ganga-Padma river. She also signed the peace accord on Chittagong Hill Tract in 1997 to ease the tensions in the hill tracts, which had been existing for decades. During the 1998 floods, the Awami League government set a unique example of disaster response in the world by providing free food and ration to 20 million flood-affected people. She made Bangladesh self-sufficient for the first time. After that, at the end of the government's term, Bangabandhu’s daughter took Bangladesh's democracy to unique heights by handing over power beautifully.
But in 2000, an attempt was made to kill her at a public meeting. Two bombs weighing 76 kg and 84 kg were buried at the helipad in Kotalipara and the public meeting site under the patronage of BNP-Jamaat. Sheikh Hasina survived as the bombs were detected before reaching the spot. On August 21, 2004, more than a dozen grenade attacks were carried out at a public meeting on Bangabandhu Avenue under the patronage of the then incumbent Jamaat-BNP's state-sponsored attack. In the heinous political attack of all time in history, 24 Awami League leaders and activists gave their lives to save Sheikh Hasina, the dream of the people. At least 300 were also wounded.
Overcoming 1/11 darkness & Journey towards Digital Bangladesh
After the tenure of the BNP-Jamaat government expired, they were supposed to hand over power to an all-acceptable caretaker government as per rules on October 28, 2006. But BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia wanted to keep power in ger grip by including the relative of two killers of Bangabandhu and continue with their looting. The Awami League strongly objected to her attempt. But on the night of October 29, BNP-backed President Iajuddin Ahmed himself was sworn in as the chief advisor to the caretaker government, violating the Constitution upon Khaleda Zia’s instruction. As a result, there rose a constitutional crisis.
On January 11, 2007, some members of the military, disguised as civil society, took control of the state power. An attempt was made to remove Sheikh Hasina, president of the Awami League, the country's largest party, from politics in the name of minus two formula. She was arrested on July 16. After she was put in jail in 2007 and sued with a total of 13 cases one after another. The eldest grandson of Bangabandhu, Sajeeb Wazed Joy led a protest in front of the US State Department on July 24 demanding Sheikh Hasina's release.
While in jail, relatives were stopped from meeting Sheikh Hasina for a long time. Her medical process was disrupted. Ears and eyes injured in the grenade attack continued to suffer further due to lack of treatment. Though mentally strong, she fell physically ill. There were also fears that she was being slow-poisoning. At one point, her illness went to critical levels. She was finally taken to a private hospital. After 20 consecutive days of treatment, she finally got normal but doctors advised her to take her abroad for better treatment.
Meanwhile, a crackdown began on Awami League leaders and activists upon the instruction by the BNP-Jamaat gang and some military members to the caretaker government. On May 23, 2008, at an extended meeting of the Awami League, grassroots leaders from 72 organisational branches of the party expressed full confidence in Sheikh Hasina and announced to intensify the ongoing agitation across the country to free her from jail. On May 27 and 28, it was decided at the executive meeting of the Awami League that Sheikh Hasina must be given unconditional release and treatment abroad. After the announcement of the Awami League, mass arrests started across the country. About 20,000 people were put in jail. But still, the mass tide could not be stopped by making all the conspiracies and attempts of the miscreants failed in the face of the popularity and personality of Sheikh Hasina. On June 11, 2008, they were forced to release the Daughter of the Bengal Sheikh Hasina with respect.
Sheikh Hasina announced a 'Charter of Change’ to change the fate of the people after coming out of jail. Under the vision and adventurous leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the 14-party alliance led by the Awami League won the national elections held in December 2008. Out of the total 267 seats won by the alliance, the Awami League got 230.
Golden Bangla Marching Towards Developed World
For the last 52 years of Bangladesh, the Awami League has had the opportunity to run the country for 22 and a half years after a lot of difficult times. During this Awami period, Sheikh Hasina led the country for 19 years. Under her indomitable leadership, the Awami League government removed hunger and poverty from the country. Every corner of the country is electrified now. Domestic business and connectivity are growing with the upgradation of the main roads from Teknaf to Tetulia.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also won the 2014 elections by announcing a zero-tolerance policy and vision 2021 against terrorism and militancy with the spirit of Liberation War. She is serving as prime minister for the fourth time in a row after winning the 11th election in 2018. With her hands, Bangladesh is now crossing the dream path of enrolling in the list of developed worlds. Digital Bangladesh has now emerged as a wonder of the world by spreading the boundaries of dreams. As a hero's nation, the Bengali nation has regained honour in the international arena.
In the last one era, the economic condition of the people of Bangladesh has improved tremendously. During the BNP-Jamaat government, the per capita income was only $543, which was quadrupled by the Awami League government. The per capita income in 2022 was USD 2,824. In Bangladeshi currency, it is BDT 263,464 per annum. Due to the hike of Dollar price, per capita income now is a little bit lower. The total domestic product (GDP) in 2022-23 stood at Tk 44, 39, 273 crores. Even in the face of the Corona pandemic, it has been possible to maintain the economy of the country smoothly. The GDP growth in FY 2019 - 20 was 5.24 per cent which has risen to 7.25% in FY2021-22.
A total of 500 model mosques have been built to promote the proper education and spread of religion and culture. Women's maternity leave has been increased to six months. Under the social safety net, security has increased for elderly people, women and children. The country is moving forward on the path of prosperity by holding hands with humanity.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has caught the global eye due to the economic capacity of its people, human resource development and capacity building, building the foundation of the country's sustainable economy. The United Nations has recognized Bangladesh as a developing country by moving from the list of least developed countries.
The ongoing good governance of one era has radically changed the lives of the people of the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made it possible in the last one era of the Awami League government, which has not been possible in more than three years since independence. In the 1990s, while only 2.3 million people crossed the poverty line in Bangladesh, more than 50 million people have risen from the lower class to the middle class in the last decade.
The rate of poor population in the country was 38.4 per cent during the BNP-Jamaat government. At present, it has come down to below 18.7% and the ultra-poor has come down from 24.2 per cent to 5.6%.
Free higher education has been ensured for all. Community clinics and union health centres have been established in villages. Thirty types of life-saving medicines are being given free of cost from these places. Digitalization has also started blowing into the rural economy. The face of the marginalized population is constantly changing. The country has become a country of food surplus from food shortages. The average life expectancy of the people of the country has increased to over 71 years (75 years for women and 71 years for men) due to an increase in quality of life.
The whole country now has access to electricity, a tremendous feat achieved by the Awami League government. Now every household has an electricity connection and the days of powerlessness are over. Bangladesh has also proved itself as a nation with true grit again as the work of Padma Bridge is now complete. The amount of conspiracies and obstacles for this project could be bigger than the bridge itself. But, Sheikh Hasina's determination has surpassed it all and now it's complete. Awami League has proved, once again, that it doesn't back out of promises.
In addition, under the visionary leadership of people’s leader Sheikh Hasina, the country is moving ahead with various economic indicators including gender equality, export-oriented industrialization, 100 special economic zones, Bangabandhu satellite-1 launch, and an increase in export income. Megaprojects in the country including nuclear power Station, deep seaport, and Dhaka Metro Rail are progressing at a rapid pace. Dhaka Metro Rail has already began partial operation and people are already feeling that it is worth the wait. Payra Deep Sea Port, Payra Thermal Power plant have begun operation.
The Wonder of the World....
The 74-year history of the Awami League in the history of self-sacrifices and dedication to the country and the people. The Awami League pledges to overcome all obstacles and move forward and stand by removing the distress and sorrows of the people for quality and dignified life.
Bangladesh is the name of the golden achievements of the Awami League's 74-year journey. The Awami League's relentless struggle to enrich this state and is still going on. With the struggle and love for people, the Awami League and Bangladesh- have become the pulse of each other's hearts. The Bengali nation will continue to grow fast always with the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’.