Awami League, which was established as the Bengali alternative to the domination of the Muslim League in Pakistan 72 years back, subsequently became the torchbearer of freedom for the then East Bengal and the suppressed people of this soil, said academics.
“Awami League was not only the first opposition party in Pakistan when there was complete domination of Muslim League but also the torchbearer of freedom for the then East Bengal,” National Professor Rafiqul Islam told BSS in an interview today as AL marks its 72nd founding anniversary tomorrow.
He said AL was formed on June 23 in 1949 to bring back the independence of this soil which was lost in Amrokanon 262 years ago on this day in 1757 through the defeat of last independent ruler of Bengal Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah.
“The formation of AL on historic Plassey Day on June 23 was a significant incident as Bengal’s independence was lost on this day in 1757,” said Prof Rafiqul Islam, an eminent educationist and the president of Bangla Academy.
From a meeting of the supporters of Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy at the Rose Garden of KM Das Lane, Old Dhaka, a new political party named East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on June 23.
Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Shamsul Haq of Tangail became the party’s President and General Secretary respectively while young leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was made Joint General Secretary from the jail.
“It’s a remarkable incident that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected joint general secretary staying in jail. He was arrested earlier for waging movement aimed at securing the rights of the fourth class employees of Dhaka University,” the educationist mentioned.
He said when Bangabandhu came in top leadership of AL, the party’s real characteristics were revealed.
With placing of the historic six-point demand in 1966, which is considered as the charter of freedom for Bangalee nation, Bangabandhu’s philosophy and ideology were revealed, he said.
“Bangabandhu’s unparallel leadership quality flourished completely during the six-point movement,” he said.
He said because of that six-point demand, Agartala Conspiracy case was filed and later ‘Eleven Points Programme’ was taken based on the six-point movement.
Subsequently, within four years, the Six Points turned into one-point demand for greater autonomy of this soil, he said.
He said AL led the nation in the Mass Upsurge against the Pakistani occupational forces in 1969, prompting it to join the Liberation War in 1971 to free the people from the centuries-old subordination.
Talking to BSS educationist and historian Prof Syed Anwar Hussain said AL is the biggest, oldest and people-oriented party.
“Bangladesh and the Banglee nation are indebted to Awami League and we must have to remain indebted to this party as the nation had gained a lot from this party since its inception,” he said.
Prof Anwar, supernumerary teacher at the History Department of Dhaka University (DU) and Bangabandhu Chair at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), underscored the need for keeping the party and the government as separate entities to strengthen democracy following the footsteps of Bangabandhu.
He said Bangabandhu became general secretary of Awami League in 1953 and he created second and third layers of leaderships inside the party.
As Bangabandhu created multilayered leadership, the party led the 1971 Liberation War successfully in absence of him, he added.
Lauding the development and progress of Bangladesh under the leadership of AL government, he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a bold decision of building Padma bridge with domestic funds.
Mentioning different ongoing mega projects including metro-rail and Karnaphuli tunnel, he said if AL was not in power, the unprecedented development of the country might not have happened.
DU former Vice-Chancellor and noted educationist Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said Awami League was formed aimed at achieving emancipation of the Bangalee nation from its long subjugation.
Since its inception in 1949, Awami League always remains devoted to fulfiling the expectations and aspirations of the common people of this soil, he said.
Prof Arefin, also chairman of the board of the directors of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), said Bangabandhu, the architect of independent Bangladesh, established Chhatra League in 1948 when he was a student of Law at the DU.
But he established Chhatra League not to hold the leadership rather to organize the student community, he said, adding that subsequently Awami League was formed in 1949.
He said the legacy of Awami League, Bangabandhu and Bangladesh are intertwined.
DU Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Mohammad Samad said AL led by Bangabandhu liberated the people of the country with a dream of building a prosperous 'Sonar Bangla' after a long-time struggle, from Language Movement to Liberation War.
After Bangabandhu’s assassination in 1975, the dream was demolished.
But when Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina took the helm of the Awami League and later became the prime minister, the dream began to come true, he said.
Now, the people in remote areas are also satisfied with the leadership of Sheikh Hasina and AL.
As AL remains in power and has been running the government very successfully, some greedy and opportunist people are in rush to grab some advantages from the party showing fake patriotism and fake belief but such people are a threat to the nation and the party, he said.
The academician urged the party leaders to remain alert about such opportunists.