A poet of politics

Bangabandhu is not just a name but rather the embodiment of the fighting spirit to establish an independent state.

Bangladesh and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are the same — complementary to each other.

He is the main protagonist or hero of Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom and as long as the Bangali nation lives, Bangabandhu’s name will be pronounced with reverence. Sheikh Mujib is not just a name but rather the embodiment of the fighting spirit to establish an independent state.

More than 100 years ago today, on 17 March 1920, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in Tungipara of Gopalganj. He was the third among four daughters and two sons of father Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and mother Saira Khatun. The affectionate name given to him by his parents was Khoka.

As a teenager, he boldly raised the demand for their village school in Gopalganj to renowned political leaders Sher Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. At the age of 18, a young Mujib was arrested for protesting while attending school. He had to stay in jail for a week; it was his first time behind bars for protesting against wrongdoing.
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After that, this great leader was imprisoned numerous times as he kept fighting for the rights and freedom of the Bangali nation. His father did not stop him from joining politics as long as he kept studying.

Mujib went to Kolkata immediately after his matric examination and it was there that the major changes in his political life began. While a student at Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College), he became active in the Pakistan movement and became close to leaders like Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy and Abul Hashim.

When the state of Pakistan was created in 1947, Mujib moved to Dhaka and formed the Chhatra League a year later. In 1949, he was elected joint secretary of the newly formed East Pakistan Awami Muslim League. Sheikh Mujib’s political activities started by participating in the movement that demanded Bangla as one of the state languages. He became the undisputed leader of Bangalis through the Language Movement of 1948-1952, the anti-military movement of 1958, the Education Movement of 1962 and the historic Six-point Movement of 1966.

He was given the title of ‘Bangabandhu’ by students during the 1969 mass uprising. In the 1970 elections, Bangalis gave their unwavering support to Bangabandhu. But without handing over the power to the Awami Muslim League, the Pakistani ruling class started the politics of conspiracy against the Bangalis.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman went on to call for independence in his historic speech on 7 March 1971 and declared independence on 26 March after the Pakistani forces launched a planned massacre on 25 March.

Responding to his call, the people of the country fought for almost nine months and achieved an independent and sovereign Bangladesh. And finally, on 10 January 1972, the Father of the Nation stepped on the soil of independent Bangladesh.

In an emotional 20-minute-long speech on a platform set up at the Racecourse Maidan, he said he was ready to be hanged while in captivity in West Pakistan. But he knew that no one would be able to ‘hold down’ the Bangalis.

“My Bangladesh has become independent today, my life’s desire has been fulfilled today, the people of my Bengal have been liberated today. My Bengal will remain free. Today, I won’t be able to make a speech. The way the sons of Bengal, the mothers of Bengal, the farmers of Bengal, the labourers of Bengal, the intellectuals of Bengal struggled; I was imprisoned, was ready and waiting to go to the gallows. But I knew that they could not suppress my Bangalis.

The people of my Bengal would be liberated. I pay tribute to those of my brothers who made the supreme sacrifice, suffered martyrdom, I give them my regards, and seek forgiveness of their souls,” he said in his speech.

“Together we will build a new and prosperous Bengal. The people of Bengal will cheer up again, live life merrily and breathe freely in an open atmosphere. The people of Bengal will have two square meals a day. All my endeavours are aimed at achieving this goal. In fact, establishing the country on a firm financial footing is the motto of my life,” Bangabandhu further said

In his Homecoming Day speech, Bangabandhu also made a list of important tasks aimed at uplifting a war-torn country to a prosperous state. He first focused on infrastructure development as at that time, it was very important to rebuild the communication system to provide assistance to the people and conduct business across the country.

One of the important directives of his speech was to maintain peace and harmony in society. He ordered the people to maintain peace. The Father of the Nation was also vigilant about the foreign policy of the newly independent Bangladesh. He also gave a clear idea about the main content of foreign policy in his speech — “Friendship with everyone, enmity with no one.”

Pointing out that the independence will be meaningless if the nation is reorganised without proper guidance, he said, “I want to say, if the people of Bangladesh do not get enough food, if the mothers and sisters do not get clothes, and if the youth do not get work, then our freedom will remain incomplete.”

The great architect of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu, started the journey toward the prosperity and development of today’s Bangladesh. He always thought about the people of this country. Bangabandhu dreamed of a golden Bengal that would change the fate of the people of this country and help them lead a better and more prosperous life.

The Father of the Nation had two dreams — to make Bangladesh independent and to transform the country into a hunger-free, poverty-free golden Bengal. He gave us freedom and his second dream is being fulfilled by his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher

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