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By Sharif Shahabuddin
Immediately after the landslide victory of Awami League in the 1970 election difference of opinion became acute on the question of the next course of action.
Awami League was in favour of following the constitutional process. However, the Student League (Chhatra League), known as the front fighter, had adopted a resolution in its highest forum that the objective should be country’s independence through arms struggle.
Awami League didn’t support arms struggle. They had an intension to form a government in Pakistan under the headship of Bangabandhu.
It was not known what exactly Tajuddin Ahmad, the then general secretary of Awami League, had in mind about Chhatra League’s resolution for arms struggle but he led the Liberation War in absence of Bangabandhu.
Chhatra League was directly guided by four leaders — Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, Serajul Alam Khan, Abdur Razzak and Tofail Ahmed.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the buffer zone, but contradiction between AL leader Tajuddin Ahmad and four former student leaders, headed by Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, who were the main policy framers of the Liberation War, was acute and these two forces emerged as archrivals.
The inner feud had taken a serious turn during the Liberation War. As the prime minister of the exile government the war was completely led by Tajuddin Ahmad.
The former student leaders, headed by Sheikh Moni, were in, what they felt, a deplorable condition. Sheikh Moni had discovered that the cadres and fighters of underground parties had experiences of armed struggle since they had long been engaged in this job in the rural areas in Bangladesh. And in some areas in the country our freedom fighters were trapped by those members of the extremist parties.
Sheikh Moni’s point of view was that the extremist forces that were given arms to fight Pakistanis belonged to pro-Chinese political parties. And if the war lingers the Indian Arms carried by the freedom fighters of Awami League will go into the hands of pro-Chinese elements. Sheikh Moni met with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and he could convince her of the looming problem. Accordingly the Mujib Bahini was formed headed by Sheikh Moni, Abdur Razzak, Serajul Alam Khan and Tofail Ahmed.
It was decided that the members of the Mujib Bahini, who were politically motivated student leaders, will guide the Bangladesh freedom fighters under Tajuddin.
Though the formation of Mujib Bahini was approved by Indira Gandhi, Tajuddin Ahmad didn’t take it easily. He had given standing order not to follow the directions of the leaders of Mujib Bahini. There were reports that in some places the Mukti Bhahini and Mujib Bahini boys had engaged in skirmishes.
It was alleged that Tajuddin Ahmad was not allowed to have dinner with Bangabandhu by those former student leaders on 10 January, 1972 when he returned home from the Pakistani captivity. It was also said that Moni didn’t want Tajuddin to continue as prime minister after the home coming of Bangabandhu on the ground that if Tajuddin was allowed to continue as prime minister, he would have put his own people in the administration and it would be difficult to replace him. Bangabandhu was reluctant to take power, but Moni and other family members compelled him to become Prime Minister. And these four leaders were also instrumental in removing Tajuddin from the cabinet led by Bangabandhu.
Despite holding the important ministry of Finance in the Mujib cabinet, Tajuddin was making statements against the government decisions on foreign aids as he was not given a patient hearing by Bangabandhu after he returned home from Pakistan. Tajuddin wanted to have talks with Bangabandhu in person and wanted to brief him on the whole period of the liberation war. Sheikh Moni and other members of the Sheikh family gave him the understanding that Tajuddin didn’t want Bangabandhu should return home. It was also alleged that Tajuddin had made a statue of Bangabandhu sometimes in November and had garlanded the statue.
Being the finance minister, Tajuddin had been facing tremendous obstacles in framing the socialistic policy for the country’s economy.