Bangabandhu’s birth centenary today



The yearlong birth centenary celebration of  Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman begins today at home and abroad in a befitting manner.

Bangabandhu, the greatest Bangalee of all times, was born on March 17 in 1920 at Tungipara under the then Gopalganj subdivision in Faridpur district.

His father Sheikh Lutfar Rahman was a ‘serestadar’ in the civil court of Gopalganj.

Mujib, the third among six brothers and sisters, had his primary education in the local Gimadanga School. His early education suffered for about four years due to eye ailments. He passed his matriculation from Gopalganj Missionary School in 1942, Intermediate of Arts (IA) from Calcutta Islamia College in 1944 and BA from the same college in 1947, according to Banglapedia.

Bangabandhu showed the potential of leadership since his school life.

While a student of Gopalganj Missionary School, AK Fazlul Huq, the then Chief Minister of Bengal, came to visit the school (1938). The young Mujib is said to organize an agitation in order to impress the chief minister about the depressed situation of the region.

While remaining a student in Islamia College, he was elected general secretary of the College Students Union in 1946.

He was an activist of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League and a member of the All India Muslim League Council from 1943 onwards. In politics, he had been a fervent follower of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a legendary leader in the Indian subcontinent and considered as the champion of democracy.

During the 1946 general elections, Sheikh Mujib was deputed by the Muslim League to work for the party candidates in the Faridpur district.

After partition (1947), he got himself admitted into the University of Dhaka to study law but was unable to complete it, because he was expelled from the University in early 1949 on the charge of ‘inciting the fourth-class employees’ in their agitation against the University authority’s indifference towards their legitimate demands.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of the principal organisers behind the formation of the East Pakistan Muslim Students League (1948).

In fact, his active political career began with his election to one of the three posts of joint secretaries of the newly established East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (1949) while interned in jail.

In 1953, he was elected general secretary of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, a post that he held until 1966 when he became president of the party. It was due to Mujib’s initiative that in 1955 the word ‘Muslim’ was dropped from the name of the party to make it sound secular. It is indicative of his secularist attitude to politics that he developed after 1947.

To give full time to the organizational affairs of the Awami League, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman resigned from the cabinet of Ataur Rahman Khan (1956-58) after serving for only nine months.

During the regime of general Ayub Khan, Mujib had the nerve to revive the Awami League in 1964, though his political mentor (guru), Suhrawardy, was in favour of keeping political parties defunct and work under the political amalgam called National Democratic Front for the restoration of constitutional rule in Pakistan.

Mujib, after all, was already quite disillusioned about the concept of Pakistan.

The impression that he got as a member of Pakistan’s Second Constituent Assembly-cum-Legislature (1955-1956) and later as a member of Pakistan National Assembly (1956-1958) was that the attitude of West Pakistani leaders to East Pakistan was not one of equality and fraternity.

Sheikh Mujib was one of the first among the language movement detainees (11 March 1948).

His address on September 21, 1955 in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on the question of Bangla language is noteworthy. Claiming the right to speak in his mother tongue, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said: ‘We want to speak in Bengali here, whether we know any other language or not it matters little for us. If we feel that we can express ourselves in Bengali we will speak always in Bengali even though we can speak in English also. If that is not allowed, we will leave the House, but Bengali should be allowed in this house; that is our stand.’

In another address (25 August 1955) what Sheikh Mujib said in the Constituent Assembly in protest against the change of nomenclature of the province from East Bengal to East Pakistan is equally pertinent. ‘Sir, you will see that they want to place the word ‘East Pakistan’ instead of ‘East Bengal’. We have demanded so many times that you should use [East] Bengal instead of [East] Pakistan. The word ‘Bengal’ has a history, has a tradition of its own….’

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman grew in political eminence in the early 1960s.

Through his captivating organizing ability he was able to retrieve the Awami League from intra party politics and exits of a number of factions from the party’s mainstream.

A magnetic organiser, Sheikh Mujib had established his full command over the party.

In 1966, he announced his famous six-point programme what he called ‘Our’ [Bangalis’] Charter of Survival’.

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