A Concept of Political Party :
Political parties serve as the motive force in crystallizing public opinion and as the unifying agency which makes democracy workable. They arc the indispensable links between the people and the representative machinery of govt. They arc the vehicles through which individuals and group work to secure political power and if successful to exercise that power. They make people politically conscious that is aware of their role as citizens. This role cannot be performed simply by voting, but must be a continuous one if govt. is to be kept responsible to public interest. Thus, political parties arc responsible for maintaining a continuous connection between the people and those who represent them either in the govt. or in the opposition.
Political party is an important political organization. It is the soul of politics. I think political party is a group of people whose aims are same and who remain united different political philosophers defined political party in various ways some definitions are given below:
Edmund Burke says, “Political party is a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed”.
When a large number of people gather on the basis of some basic principle and try to seek national interest, then is it is called political party.
R.G. Gettle says, “Political party is a group of citizens more or less organized who act as a political unit and show by the use of political power aim at controlling the government and carrying out its general policies”.
It is a sum total of people which main aim is to control the government and implement its general policies.
Herman Finer Says “Political party is an organized body with voluntary membership, it concerted effort being employed in the pursuit of political power”.3
Political party is an organization of people whose concerted energy is employed to take political power through a legal way.
R.M. McIver Says “It is an association organized in support of some principle or policy which by constitutional means endeavors to make the determinant of the government”.4
Political party is an association whist is formed on the basis of some principles or policies and it wants to ruling through constitutional means.
Dicey says “A party is a group of men banded to either to pursue certain principles”.5
According to Allan R. Ball, “Political party may be principally defined by their common aim. they seek political power either single or cooperation with their political parties”.6
Political party is an organization which seeks ruling power through single or concerted efforts.
Dicey Says, “A political party pressures the interest of the state with the help of internal policy making procedure.”7
A party aims at pressuring the state’s interest with the application of its own policy.
Now, political party can be defined as an important organization which always aims at obtaining political power and implementing its own principle through a legal way.
Genesis and Establishment of Awami League:
Prior to the achievement of Pakistan in 1947, the Muslim League in East Bengal (Now Bangladeshi, the ruling party in the early period of Pakistan, was divided into three factions -the Nazimuddin faction, the Suhrawardy faction and the Fazlul Haq faction. The Nazimuddin faction was essentially "conservative" and had a very narrow base of support because its leadership belonged to the "non-vernacular" i.e. Urdu-speaking group. On the other hand, the e. Suhrawardy faction was "Liberal" and the majority of its leaders were "vernacular"8 i.e. Bengali speaking and had a solid base of support – among the Urban middle class -professionals – intellectuals and students. The Fazlul Haq faction was "Organizationally weak" but had a broad base of support in rural Bangladesh because it demanded the abolition of the permanent settlement (Zamindari system) in Bangladesh.
At the creation of Pakistan, each of the three [actions in the Muslim League expected to dominate over the stale apparatus of the province of Hast Bengal. However, the central leadership of the party was suspicious of both the Suhrawardy and Fazlul Haq factions, mainly because they were "liberal" and "vernacular". Therefore, the obvious choice for it was to provide support to the "non-vernacular" Nazimuddin faction, whose leader, Khawaja Nazimuddin, was made the Chief Minister of the province. This disappointed both the Suhrawardy and Fazlul Haq factions, but the Muslim League further systematically excluded many members of these two factious from organizational positions in the ruling party after appointing the conservative leader Maulana Akram Khan as the Chief Organizer of the Bast Bengal Muslim League." It was not only in the party structures, but also in the various key structures of the state apparatus of Bangladesh – divisions, subdivisions, districts and the secretariat-that "non-vernacular" members, largely drawn from the Panjab and other parts of former British India, were appointed.
'At this point, the dissatisfied factions felt the need for a separate political platform. In June 1949, the followers of Hossain Shahid Shrawardy established a new party known as the "Awami Muslim League". The League membership was largely drown from professionals, teachers, small businessmen and students-social strata that constituted the urban class. One Political Leader stated "the Awami League's political support – came mostly from the Bengal middle class.10 As the party begun to gain popularity, many loaders allegedly the leftists who joined the league, demanded changes in both the name and ideology of the party.
Finally, in 1953, by a formal resolution in the Hast Pakistan Awami League Council, the party dropped the word "Muslim" from the name of the organization mid adopted a secular programme.
Growth and Development of the Awami League:
The Awami League provided a political organization for the rising vernacular elite, but they still lacked a coherent political platform. The Awami League's previous demands and demonstrations dealt with issues such as food shortages and the restoration of civil liberties. But the vernacular elite needed a political issue that would clearly set them apart from the ruling elite and would mobilize mass support behind them". Thus every political party needs programmers to build their support behind them. It cannot be created in a day. It needs situation and time to formulate new policies to be included in the party programmers. Without reasonable and attractive political programmers; sometimes-political parties cannot sustain. As for example, the communist parties of Bangladesh could get success as they amid not adopt that kind of programmes which could reflect the expectation of the people. The AL built their support base through different political programmes, which was severely affected by its adoption of single party (BAKSAL) through constitutional amendment. It took 22 years to fill the wound. Thus we see that some party programmes are accepted and the people reject some. Some times, political programmes annihilate the party itself. Here we are discussing the origin, growth & fall of the support bases of the AL, which was built through many painful events and struggle.
Anti – BPC Movement :
The Basic Principles Committee Report, which was the first draft of the Pakistani constitution, drew sharp criticism from East Bengal. Bengalis feared that the BPC draft, if implemented, would reduce East Bengal's majority to a minority and would turn "East Begal into a colony of Pakistan.
A committee of action formed at a mass convention of opposition political workers in Dhaka entrusted with drafting an alternative proposal for the constitution. The convenors of the Actions Committee were Mr. Ataur Rahman Khan and Kamruddin Ahmed. Both of them were Awami Leaguers. The Committee toured East Bengal and mobilised mass opposition to the BPC Report. Finally in February 1950, a Grand National Convention was held which adopted alternative constitutional proposals. These proposals especially those dealing with East Bengal's autonomy, remained the sheet anchor of all subsequent demands for autonomy in East Bengal. The proposal assigned only defense and foreign affairs to the central govt. and even this jurisdiction was subject to the limitations that there would be two regional foreign offices and two regional defense forces, named by the people of the regions. The federal govt. was entitled to levy taxes only on certain specified items and could add and new items of taxation only with the consent of the region. The draft constitution also called for the establishment of a sovereign socialist republic and for the recognition of Bengali as a state language.
While the anti BPC movement gave the vernacular elite its political programme its mass appeal and group coherence was supplied by the language movement. It helped to foster a kind of linguistic nationalism in East Pakistan. It made the students a novel political and set the pattern on student literate professional alliance, which was used, successfully in all subsequent movements. Above all, it supplied the vernacular elite with a universally popular issue, a cause under which all Bengalis could unite, a cause which helped bridge the elite mass gap. The 1952 language movement created the symbols and slogans that consolidated the vernacular elite. It gave them not only a popular common cause but also their first martyrs. A whole new literary and cultural tradition grew out of the events of February 13
The main driving force of the 1952 movement was the student, working in close co-operation with political party members. The students took the crucial step of breaking section 144 on February 21 and in so doing they courted arrest and some of them died. They organized not only the massive strike and demonstrations in Dhaka but also outside the provincial capital and thus demonstrated the coherence and effectiveness of student organizations.
The language movement drew wide spread sympathy and support from the rural areas, in part because the large majority of Bengali students came from these areas. 14 though the peasants did not actively participate in the movement, their tacit support became manifest in the election return of 1954, when the Muslim League Govt. in East Bengal was defeated by a massive rural vote. 'The students campaign on the language issue had greatly influenced the vote. The election of 1954 resulted in the over throw of the ruling elite i.e. the defeat of the Muslim League Chief Minister by a young student leader of the language movement who had no past political experience.
The 1954 election:
The 1954 election marked the rejection of the 'national1 elite by the Bengali electorate. A united front comprising the Awami League, the KSP, the Nizam-i-Islami and the Ganatantri Dal was formed in 1953 and a common election manifesto was drawn up. While the 21 points were essentially a programme of the vernacular elite, they also included demands directed toward mobilising support from workers and peasants. Thus a very broadly based programme and alliance was formed to fight the incumbent Muslim League Govt.
The six-point movement :
Sheikh Mujib in early 1966 boldly presented to his fellow Bengalis a secessionist platform in the guise of his famous six point formula for the autonomy of East Pakistan"15 The leftists of East Pakistan denounced Sheikh Mujib's six-point formula as the platform of the rising petty bourgeoisie, with no programme for amelioration of the conditions of the exploited peasants and workers of East Pakistan, but they quickly found out that for more than middle and lower middle classes enthusiastically supported Sheikh Mujib. In fact, Sheikh Mujib's autonomy programme became the symbolic expression of the desire of East Pakistani Bengalis of all classes, regions and communities to carve out their own separate and independent destiny as a nation. From all perspectives – political, economic and psychological – Sheikh Mujib's six-point movement became the embodiment of the nationalist movement of East Pakistan's 16
Mass Upheaval of 1969 :
The Ayub Govt. charged Sheikh Mujib and some Bengali officers in the military and civil services with conspiracy "to bring about the secession of East Pakistan with Indian help." The trial of Sheikh Mujib was held by'a special tribunal in the cantonment, and the daily proceedings of the court were published in the newspapers. This strained the nerves of East 'Pakistanis. Ultimately a mass upsurge took place in Hast Pakistan and Sheikh Mujib came out of his prison cell in Dhaka cantonment on a surging wave of popularity unsurpassed by any other leader in East Pakistan.
The election of 1970 :
Early on, in the elections of 1970, Sheikh Mujib declared that the elections were a referendum on the AL's six point and the student's eleven points and the AL manifesto consequently focused primarily on autonomy. For about two years-from March 1969 to December 1970 – Sheikh Mujib toured the length & breadth of East Bengal, repeating AE demands to party workers while addressing innumerable mass rallies. The election results caught everybody by surprise. The Awami League won an absolute majority in the National
Assembly and provincial Assembly The November cyclone in the coastal region of East Pakistan and the administration's inadequate response to the cyclone victims had served lo vindicate the Awami League's and on autonomy and in the elections that soon followed, the Awami League won a clear mandate from the people. 17
The war of 1971 :
After the Awami League's overwhelming electoral victory, they expected to come to power. But Bhutto and other peoples’ party leaders demanded for power sharing which was rejected by Mujib. On March 1, Yahya announced his fateful decision to postpone die National Assembly session. The postponement sparked off spontaneous, rebellious demonstrations in East Pakistan and in the next few weeks Mujitarnc under tremendous pressure both from other parties and from the radicals of his own party to declare independence. Pressure from the military was also visible as troops were flown in, the moderate governor in Hast Pakistan was replaced & Yahya delivered some tough speeches. Under cross pressures from the military and the political radicals, Mujib decided lo chart a middle course, he chose to launch a non-violent non co-operation movement. Between March 1 and 7, the regime offered Mujib a round table conference and recalling of the National Assembly session. While the regime was offering negotiating terms, violent clashes between the army and the people continued to occur on the streets of Dhaka and other cities. During this non-co-operation movement. East Pakistan was completely gone under the control of Mujib. The whole of the East Pakistan administration- even the Bengalis serving in the central govt agencies and in the civilian branch of Armed forces, complied with Mujib's call for non co-operation. Yahya came lo Dhaka on March 15 to work out a political settlement of this crisis. Detailed information about the Mujib – Yahya talks in Dhaka was not available. But it appeared that Yahya agreed in principle to Mujib's four preconditions. But Bhotlo did not agree with him. By that time, the pressure on Mujib either to get a quick settlement or to declare independence had nearly reached the braking point. On March 25, Yahya launched a policy of military solution lo the crisis and on March 26, the independence of Bangladesh was formally declared in (lie name of Awami League and its leader, Sheikh Mujibur Kahman. The leadership of the movement in the first phase rested mainly with the Awami League and in some places Bengali members of the EBR, EPR and the civil service, in other words, the established authority in the districts.
In the second phase of the liberation movement was a period of long term planning. Leadership of the movement during this phase either went under ground or into exile in India. Two sets of leaders emerged. One belonged to the govt. in exile in Calcutta, the other to the Mukti bhani. The former was comprised mainly of top Awani Leaguers. The govt. in exile handled external relations, for the most part, while the Mukti Bahini was mainly concerned with the actual fighting. On June 28, 1971, Yahya announced his plan for a political settlement with the AL. lie promised a constitutional govt. and restoration of civilian rule in the next three or four months. Such settlement terms were obviously not acceptable to the govt. in exile, who in rejecting them said that the people of Bangladesh would never accept a constitution from foreign source.18
Bangladesh won independence on December 16, 1971 through this war; the Awami League got a strong support base for it.
Political Ideology of the Awami League.
The Awami League manifesto included nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism from basic principles of state policy in the Bangladesh constitution of 1972. We would like to throw some light on these :-
In the elaboration of nationalism the emphasis of "Bangalee" nationalism is predominant. The unity and solidarity of the Bangalee nation which derives its identity from its language and culture and attained a sovereign and independent Bangladesh through a united and determined struggle in the war of independence is the basis of Bangalee nationalism. Here an attempt has been made to join the ethnic nationality with the political nation hood leaving a wide scope for controversy over the concept of "Bangalee Nationalism". The concept was primarily derived from the long struggle of Bengali nationalists within the context of Pakistan as one nation with its consequent geo-political development and cultural suppression. Although there should be no doubt left of the fact that the struggle for autonomy was based on Bengali nationalism and the people who now constitute the population of Bangladesh due to their common ethnicity, language and culture-are Bengalees.
The Awami League's commitment to democracy, especially to parliamentary democracy started from the foundation of the party in 1949. The party's first election manifestos as well as all other subsequent manifestos and statements made parliamentary democracy a key demand of the party. As the ruling elite in Pakistan showed its preference for a "Vice regal" system20 the Awami League chose parliamentary democracy as a major political platform to establish itself as a distinct, democratic opposition to the ruling elite. 21
The Awami League's tactical commitment to parliamentary democracy was strengthened during the liberation movement of 1971 as it proved to be an effective instrument in getting international sympathy and support behind the movement. That the Awami league won the 1970 national election in Pakistan, because it stood for parliamentary democracy as opposed to the Pakistani ruling elite's military dictatorship. If voted to power, the Awami League would establish parliamentary democracy as against any other forms of government. This argument repeatedly used in 1971 to mobilise support for the Awami League and the Bangladesh movement.22
Though at the time of liberation there was an agreement in the Awami League leadership about parliamentary democracy, a section in the party, especially a section of the more militant youth and student fronts, were not enthusiastic about parliamentary democracy. After liberation, the more militant faction of the Awami League's student front, the student league, i.e. the Rab-Seraj faction, demanded the establishment of a revolutionary govt. under Sheikh Mujibur. Rahman's personal rule.23 This was one of the controversial issues' behind the splitting up of the Student League in May 1972. Sheikh Mujib came out against personal rule and in favour of a parliamentary democracy and ironically enough, the faction that demanded revolutionary govt. under Mujib founded an opposition party, Jatiya Samjtantrick Dal (JSD) in Oct 1972 24 The Youth front of the party, Awami Jubo League, started by Sheikh Mujib's nephew, Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni in November, 1972 and the Labours' front, Jatiya Sramik League (Sheikh Moni again being one of its leaders), intermittently demanded abolition of parliamentary democracy arid establishment of a revolutionary govt. under Sheikh Mujib. Sheikh Moni, in his public speeches and through his news papers repeatedly called for a "second revolution" by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were the masses would benefit from the leader's direct rule. Thus within the Awami Leage, the older party leadership had some ideological commitment to parliamentary democracy, but the more youthful leaders, especially a faction of the militant youth leaders, were ideologically opposed to it tactical considerations, i.e. to .show a united front and to mobilize popular support, all factions of the party accepted parliamentary democracy as a model before independence, but after liberation the consensus broke down and the factions opposed to parliamentary democracy worked as a pressure lobby against the model.
After independence, the Awami League came to power and introduced the parliamentary form of govt. But due to the lack of co-operation of the leftist parties, deterioration of law and order and internal conflict of the party, it had to abandon this system and sifted to presidential form of govtg through the forth amendment lo the constitution. After the assassination of Sheikh Mujib, the presidential form of govt. was continuing. During the agitation against Ershad regime, the three alliances pledged to introduce parliamentary form of govt. Soon after the fifth parliamentary elections, the AL & its allies in the eight party alliance and the five party alliance renewed their commitment to establish the "sovereign parliament" as embodied in the joint declaration of three alliances."26 Shiekh Hasina vowed to continue her straggle inside and outside the parliament to establish the rights of the people and to give democracy an institutional shape. On April 14, 1991 Abdus Samad Azad of AL served a notice of constitution amendment bill to the parliament secretariat for processing and scrutiny. But the BNP had always stood for presidential form of govt. and was opposed to parliamentary form of govt. But the public sentiment and the opinion in the opposition camp, and the view of the majority in the BNP itself heavily tilted in favor of parliamentary system, the ruling party decided to switch over to the parliamentary form.27
While the Awami League's commitment to parliamentary democracy can be dated back to its founding days, the party's public commitment to.a socialist pattern of economy was "a relatively recent phenomenon and where parliamentary democracy was some what of an ideological issue and only partially a tactical accommodation, socialism was totally a talcum slogan that the Awami League adopted in 1969 as a result of mounting pressures from the radical faction of the students front. The early party programmes and manifestos of the Awami League do not mention socialism and in 1957 the leftists within the Awami League left the party and formed the National Awami Party (NAP). The famous six point programme of the Awami League in 1966 only talked of redistribution of resources between East and West Pakistan and not of socialism. The Awami League first came out in favour of socialism in 1969 when it accepted the Student Action Committee's Eleven Point demands. Eleven Points were the basic, minimum points of agreement amongst all progressive political parties and the Awami League, by committing itself to the Eleven Points, managed to expand its support, base to the socialists and the more militant youths. During the liberation struggle in 1971, the support by the Soviet Union and other socialist Host European countries helped to strengthen the Awami League's public commitment lo socialism.
But though the party was publicly committed to the principle of socialism, it never spelled out what tin: party meant by a socialist pattern of economy. By implication, it appeared dial by socialism, the Awami League meant a policy of nationalization. What is more important, in spite of adopting socialism as one of its guiding principles, the Awami League continued to depend on its old power base, i.e. on the surplus farmers in the rural areas, and on lawyers, businessmen and literati professionals in the urban areas. 'In a survey of the members of the parliament, it is found that law; business and farming are the three most common occupations of the parliamentarians. The occupational background and the annual income of the members of parliament of 1970 and 1973 shows that the party leadership is recruited from the affluent middle class and they are hardly socialists. Nearly a quarter of them is urban lawyers and another quarter is businessmen. In a country where maximum annual salary is fixed at Tk. 24,000/-, 68% of the party leaders had an annual income of more than Taka 20,000/-. During the nationalist movement it picked; up the support of various groups by adopting various slogans. It had both socialists as well as the country's leading capitalists within its fold.
Since socialization meant different things to different factions, the Awami League regime could not work a coherent policy of socialist economic planning. The scientific socialists regarded the Awami League's socialist strategy as one of mixed economy, if not of capitalism and Jell the party early. At the same time, the regime's policy of nationalization and state management of economy came under lire from (he free enterprise faction of the party who put constant pressure on the regime lo give private capital a free hand. 29
In 1990, most of the socialist states abandoned socialism and adopted capitalism. At the same time, the party also changed its economic policy and now it believes in mixed economy and healthy competition between the public and private sectors.
The Awami League's commitment to secular ideology was as old as the party's commitment to parliamentary democracy. And similar to parliamentary democracy, secularism was adopted as a party program in part as an ideological issue to differentiate the party from the Pakistani ruling elite, and in part as a tactical move to recruit the support of the Hindus who constituted nearly twenty percent of the Bangalee population. The party started as a Muslim party founded by dissident factions of the Muslim League who were staunch supporters of Pakistan but lost out in the power game. The party was first named the Awami Muslim League. But before the 1954 election, the leftists decided to join the Awami League and work through the party. As a result of the leftist pressure, the Awami League adopted a more .secular line, dripped the term "Muslim" from ifs name and permitted the Indus to join the Awami League championed such secular causes as the joint electorate and in 1954 it strongly condemned the communal riots in Dhaka.
Programme and Performance of the Awami League :
When the country achieved independence there was no foreign exchange reserve, no central policy-planning agency in respect of foreign relations, defense and economic planning. Expecting an old colonial administrative infrastructure, the country received nothing substantive from the war torn victory. The road and rail communications were almost destroyed by the war and the industrial and commercial life was thoroughly disrupted. Above all the country faced the gigantic task of rehabilitation of about 10 million people who crossed into India for shelter during the war. It would not have been easy for any govt. to handle these problems of great magnitude, particularly the two challenging tasks of rehabilitation and restoration of normal life at the end of the war and the reconstruction and development for a future Bangladesh.
The legend of Sheikh Mujih, his Charismatic appeal and his hypnotic hold over the Bengalis were enormous assets for the Awami League govt. The extent of Mujib's success in establishing authority was indicated by the withdrawal of all Indian troops from the country by March 12, 1972. The constituent Assembly enacted the first constitution of independent Bangladesh only seven months later.
Not only that, large-scale famine, which threatened, was avoided in 1972 and 1973 and the ten million people who had migrated to India during the occupation period were rehabilitated. Communications were restored by repairing about 300 railway bridges and 274 road bridges and the six airports damaged during the war, Chitlagong harbour was cleared of mines and wrecks with the help of two Russian warships. 32
The general elections were called for March 7, 1973. The Awami League, the party of independence won the 1973 elections overwhelmingly. During this time, the support base of the AL was wide spread. After this, the support base decreased day by day and it reached to the end after the 4th amendment of the constitution.
Despite the attempts to legitimise the AL's rules through the election of 1973, serious political discontent erupted against the regime. The unresolved "latent" contradictions of the liberation war began to manifest within a few months after the emergence of Bangladesh. There were many fictionalized leftist political parties because of ideological differences and personality clashes among the leaders. Soon after liberation, the political environment changed significantly for them. Many of them then were strong enough to challenge the authority of the intermediate state in post liberation Bangladesh. The primary reason for the increased strength of the leftist parties in liberated Bangladesh was on the one hand, the experience of the Bengali youth with revolution during the liberation war, where they learnt that "power comes out of the barrel of a gun" and that " legitimate violence" could bring about socio-political change in a nation. On the other hand, after independence the state failed to keep its pre liberation promises, which created a tremendous gap between "expectation" and "achievement". The non-availability of essential commodities, the soaring price level, the allegations of corruption, favoritism and nepotism in the ruling party and charges about Indo-Soviet-influence in Bangladesh, all these made for receptiveness to revolutionary slogans on the part of many Bengalis.
The main challenge to the regime centred around the ideology of Mujibbad when one section of the student front of the AL, the Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) openly challenged Mujibbad in May 1972, it marked the beginning of the break up of the unity of the ruling party. The pre-liberation ‘latent’ conflict within the BCL became "manifest1 within six months after the independence of Bangladesh. The BCL split into pro-Mujibbad group (siddiqui-Makhan) and an anti Mujibbad group. The radical faction of the BCL claimed that Mujibbad was a Utopian concept1 and that the socio-economic and political conditions in Bangladesh could be changed only through the establishment of scientific socialism'.
The split in the BCL brought about the break-up of the AL labour front and also the AL affiliated Mukti Joddha Sangsad (Freedom Fighters Association). A separate opposition led Jatiya Mukti Jocklha Sangrrm Parishad (National Freedom Fighter Revolutionary Organization) and a peasant front were formed. Finally, on October 31, 1972, a new political party called Jatiyo Samjtantrik l)al (.LSD-National Socialist Party) was formed under the leadership of A.S.M. Abdur Rab, Major M.A. Jalil, who demanded higher salaries for the teachers, workers and peasants and to stop providing licenses and permits to Awami League supporters.
In early 1974. it threatened, that, if its demands were not fulfilled by March 14, 1974, it would start a 'Gherao' movement. The JSD continued to mobilise the masses through strikes, gheraos and public meetings. On October 13, 1974, it adopted a resolution demanding the resignation of the ineffective and corrupt regime and establishment of a state of peasants and workers to save the nation from disaster the party called Hartal throughout the country on November 26. 1974. Finally, the state arrested many workers of the JSD, including Major Jalil, Rab and Siraj.
The regime was also strongly denounced by the veteran political leader Muulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. In order to launch a countrywide movement, he persuaded six open opposition parties to form a united front led by him. The front, known as ail party Action-committee (APAC) was formed on the basis of a 15-point demand. Of these, four were particularly important: – (a) Full rationing of food throughout Bangladesh, (b) Withdrawal of the special power act (c) Elimination of black marketing smuggling and corruption and (d) Cancellation of all unequal, open or secret pacts with foreign powers.
Many of the demands of the APAC represented popular sentiment. In 1974, Bhasani warned that unless the 15-point demands were met by June 30, 1974, he would launch a mass movement against the regime. One day before the dead line, i.e. on June 29, 1974, most of the leaders of the APAC, including Bhasani, were arrested and thrown into prison.
With the ideological orientation the under ground parties began training their political cadres in the spirit of a "second revolution" in Bangladesh and launched three types of violent activities. First, the revolutionaries started killing AL leaders secretly on a large scale. Second, along with the secret killing, the revolutionary cadres attacked the houses of rich peasants, occupied their paddy fields and distributed rice and other crops among (he landless people. The attackers, usually well armed, appeared at night and shout revolutionary slogans. Third, the revolutionary cadres attacked the local law enforcement machinery – police out posts, Rakhhi Bahim camps and police stations. Between June and November 1973 alone, there were armed attacks on 52 police stations. The revolutionary parties thus posed a serious and direct challenge to the authority and security of the state.
In response to the challenge, the regime undertook two major steps, f'irst, at the political level, the AL formed an alliance with two pro-Moscow political parties-National Awami Party led by Majaffar Ahmed (NAP-M) and the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) led by Moni Singh. Second, as this alliance proved to be ineffective, the state took legal measures against the opposition; several ordinances were promulgated to suppress the violent activities of opposition parties. In the process a total of 6600 persons were killed and 86,000 persons were arrested 33 Whom the state characterized as "miscreants" and "anti state" elements. All there measures, failed to stop the under ground activities of the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the political and economic situation progressively deteriorated and intra-party conflict intensified. In this crisis situation, the president proclaimed a state of emergency on December 28, 1974 and suspended all fundamental rights for an indefinite period.
Inspite of the declaration of emergency, the strength of the opposition parties was increasing. Not only that the crisis within the AL and the constant pressure of Moni and other Awami Leagues as well as Pro-Moscow leaders, finally promoted Mnjib to opt for the presidential form of Govt. and form one party state in Bangladesh.
The establishment of BAKSAL was hailed by the NAP (M) and CPB; both viewed the constitutional changes as making an end to “the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and a step forward to the real democracy of the exploited Masses 34. But none of the other opposition parties either welcomed or joined BAKSAL. Since they were banned, they conducted their activities under ground. In its wall paintings and pamphlets in different parts of the country, especially at Dhaka University, the JSD called for the establishment of Biplihi Gono Bahani (Peoples’ Revolutionary Army)
In August, a bloody military coup took place in which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his whole families, except two daughters were killed.
So, the wide spread support base which the AL built-up through many years, started to decline after independence and it was decreasing day by day and with the promulgation of the BAKSAL, it came to an end. Because, the people of Bangladesh are always in favour of multi-party system and the other measures, which the regime had to take, also hurt the people. Such as, after independence, through the special power Act, the first step to violate the human rights was made. Then the deterioration of law and order, internal conflict of the ruling party, threat from the revolutionary leftists could not solve and thus taking the 4th amendment also disheartened the people. The dissatisfaction of different groups spreaded all over the country and the AL lost the popularity.
After the death of Mujib, the Awami League was fragmented into two factions. One led by Ahdul Malek Ukol (AL-Malek) and the other led by Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury (AL-Mizan). During this time, there was no important party programme. Sheikh Hasina came to Bangladesh on May 17, 1981 and elected unanimously the president of the party. Within one year of her return. Ershad captured power by replacing an elected president. Then the AL led the party alliance against the military regime. On the way to civilianize the regime, after the referendum, on October 1, the opposition parties were granted permission to resume indoor polities. Agitation against the regime began with renewed vigor when the restrictions on “outdoor politics” were lifted on the first day of 1986. The year 1986 dawned with demand of’ the two alliances’ for the parliamentary election under a civilian caretaker govt.
But the regime rejected the demand by offering some minor concessions sonic scheduled the parliamentary elections for April 26, 1986.35 The alliances refused to take part in those elections and unitedly promised “to resist any one who will contest the polls.” But, to the surprise of many, some parties in the AL- led alliance decided to contest the electoral race on March 21. a day before the deadline for the submission of nomination papers. Though Sheikh Hasina had been claiming that her party’s participation in that election was a strategy to continue the movement against the regime both inside the parliament and on the streets, many people were not convinced. The party had to pay a very high price as seven of its component parties snapped their ties with the alliance in protest against its decision to participate in the action the AL could not attract the larger younger group and the student force as the leader showed a compromising tendency in the election of l986 it was hard to prove such accusations, the Al. leadership to disprove the accusable ions either.
Though Sheikh Hasina entered the pediment and had promised to light against the govt. from inside, but she could not do any thing over the controversial Villa Parishad Bill and the Budget. After the controversial Zilla Parishad Bill, which gave representation to the Armed forces in the civilian administration, was passed by the parliament, then she had to Out on the streets protesting against the passage of the bill and from the streets joining with other parties, she forced Farshad to abstain from giving assent to the Bill, though it was passed by the parliament. The AL did not participate in the presidential election and Sheikh was interned in her house.
In the second session of the national parliament passed the Amendment bill to legalise all actions taken by president Erashad during the Martial law period by the JP members with support of some minor parties and a big chunk of the independent members who had cast in their lot with the JP earlier. Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the opposition in the parliament. considered the passage of the bill as a “black Chapter in the national history, and a fraud perpetuated through the parliament without approval of the this time, the other parties told Sheikh Hasina to resign from the parliament though a number of MPs of 8 party Alliance were in favour of resignation. But Sheikh Hasina was not in favour of such an idea. According to her Our immediate object is to topple the govt. our strength will continue both inside and outside the house. In reply to the implied criticism against Awami League by 5 party, sheikh Hasina declared that the fight is not against the parliament. She said that who do not like the fall of this govt. are rising the demand of the cancellation of the 4 parliament and the resignation of the opposition MPs.” Though the movement against the regime was continuing, it was sometimes jointly or sometimes alone, but it is true that the Al never wanted to go to any movement with the BNP and this disunity enlarged the length of the regime of Erashad.
President Earshad dissolved the parliament on December 1987 and on the March, the parliamentary election were held again and the main opposition parties boycotted the elections and declared a continuous hartal programme of 36 hours beginning from 1st March. But there was a feeling amongst the people that the opposition parties could perhaps have foiled the holding of the election through a united movement but failed to do so due to their lack of unity. The opposition parties gave programme after programme, but there was a lack of purpose amid direction.
Beginning from 5th January up to the day of the election, hortal was organized for 136 hours over 9 occasions. These had no effect practically. The opposition leaders claimed that they had called the people to boycott the election and the people supported their boycott call by their non-participation. So, they claimed that they were’ successful.
Awami League preferred to contest Upazilla election held on 24th March individually without associating with oilier components of the 8 party alliance to lest the party’s popularity. If the party would make a good showing, the leaders thought, it would give them the chance to contest the national election alone on its own strength. Though it was termed a party less election, both JP and Awami League participated for all practical purposes on party basis to demonstrate the strength of their parties.
Lastly, the Awami League felt necessity to work jointly with 7 party and 5 party groups and united led to the hartal call on 28th June by all the three alliances. Since then united movement by the three alliances was continuing upto December 6, 1990, till the fall of the regime.
The Awami League did not want to unite with ideologically different parties. Ideologically, it is a leftist party and the BNP is a rightist party. It also demanded to ban the politics of religious groups. It treated the BNP and the JP at the same way as a military regime coming in an unconstitutional way to the politics. So, it seemed to Al useless to unite with one of them and to drive the other one. Not only that, it also tried to go through I lie constitutional way. So, it participated the elections held wider Ershad. it did not only try to fall down the regime of Earshad, it also tried to set 4-pre-conditions to reinstate the constitution of’ 1970, trial of Sheikh Mujib and thus to raise the consciousness of liberation war. It also called to unite the pro-liberation force against the anti-liberation force. But it failed to make the people listen about their plea. So, it had to compromise with its opponents for the sake of democracy.
It was again a matter of great disappointment for them that they did not get the majority in the parliament in the elections of 1 991 held under a care taker govt. though it polled more popular votes than any other party.
As a leader of the opposition of the Fifth Parliament, Sheikh Hasina steered all the political parties in the parliament towards changing the presidential system into the parliamentary system.
During the tenure the Awami League launched a nation wide campaign to help the fanners and workers, built a strong movement in the rural areas demanding supply of fertilizer at a fair price, supported the cause of industrial workers for reinstatement in their jobs, burst into protest against the rape and killing of teen aged Yasmin and subsequent killing of seven others by police in Dinajpur.
Charging that the BNP govt. had resorted to massive rigging in several by—elections, including in the Magura constituency, they waged a struggle for creating a permanent system, which would ensure free and fair poll. She demanded resignation of the I3NP govt. and amendment of the constitution for a non-party caretaker govt. to conduct the polls.
They organized campaigns along with all other major opposition political parties for the caretaker govt. when the negotiated settlement on the issue with the BNP govt. failed, all the MPs belonging to the opposition resigned from the parliament on December 30, 1994.
The Awami League begun a renewed movement demanding general elections under a care taker govt. The movement gained momentum when the BNP held parliamentary Polls oil February 15, 1996. It reached the peak after she called a non-co-operation movement in March 1996. Not only huge number of masses and professionals, but a number of govt. officials and employees also came out from their places of work and expressed solidarity with the movement. Finally. Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia resigned and a non -party caretaker govt. was formed on March 30, 1996.
The seventh parliamentary elections were held through out the country on 12th June 996 and the Awami League won in 146 seats in the elections. The cause of this victory is mainly party strategy in mobilizing the people to vote for them in the elections and failure of the BNP to prove their adaptability to the people.39
The fundamental principles of the Bangladesh Awami Leagues shall be Bengali Nationalism, Democracy, Secularism or in other words ensuring freedom of all religions as well as non-communal politics and Socialism, that is to say-the establishment of an exploitation-free society and social Justice40
The Bangladesh Awami League shall adopt appropriate measures to implement its Declaration and Program. The fundamental goals and commitments will be:
- To uphold the ideal of independence and the spirit as well as values of Liberation War;
- To recognize human dignity and humanistic values;
- To secure the unity and solidarity of the people of Bangladesh;
- To boost up the smooth growth and institutionalization of parliamentary democracy in the right manner and to ensure peoples freedom and security in the exercise of suffrage according to their choice;
- To develop a mass-oriented, transparent and accountable system of efficient public administration and to ensure good governance;
- To set up a strong government system in order to ensure people’s participation and empowerment at all administrative levels up to grass roots;
- To ensure fundamental human rights irrespective of religion, caste, sex, community, ethnic and so on and a provide living,
- To ensure religious freedom and to eradicate all shades of communalism;
- To establish the rule of law; to ensure separation of the judiciary from the executive and its independence and to establish a society free from terrorism and corruption;
- To stop oppression against women; to protect women’s rights as well as dignity and to empower them by ensuring female part the state and social life;
- To protect children’s rights; to for hastening their physical and mental development and to assure development of the young generation:
- To ensure freedom of the press and mass-media and free flow of information:
- To solve problems of all the basic necessities of life including food, clothing, shelter, care all people, an to ensure their right to work and to improve the standards of living
- To make an end to economic backwardness; to eradicate poverty; to provide more employment; to meet the challenge of globalization; to overcome one-sided foreign dependency and to encourage productive investment in the private sector, thereby building the foundation of a strong industrially developed national economy;
- To secure the overall rural, development; to reform the land and agricultural system on a massive scale; to com bat against the negative impact of globalization on agriculture; to introduce to make cooperatives multifaceted and effective;
- To ensure people’s food security by maintaining self-sufficiency in food and guaranteeing profitable prices for agricultural produce;
- To protect national interest by the reasonable use of natural resources; to build up a long electrification, transport and information technology;
- To prioritize human resource development, expansion as well as standardization of education; to implement an education policy consistent with the society’s requirements and to introduce and implement a cheap and progressive education policy and to encourage expansion of science and technology;
- To ensure heritage, civilization, language, arts, literature and obscene entertainment and distorted culture and to preserve and promote the life style, language and culture of the aborigines, tribes and ethnic groups of the country;
- To provide assistance of all kinds to weak, backward, exploited and neglected poor people and the labor force to help them out state of existence and to establish the for aged,, poor and party-stricken freedom fighters;
- To ensure availability, conservation and proper management of water resources and to encourage protection of the environment, creation of forest and social forestation, conservation of bio-diversity and mitigation of the green house effect
- To prevent unplanned urbanization; to increase citizen’s facilities towns and cities and to rural areas; to build up planned rural human habitation with modern amenities and facilities;
- To build up modern and strong defense system in order to protect the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh and to contribute to global peace keeping;
- To base the foreign policy of the country on the motto, ‘Friendship with all and malice steps for establishing ,universal brotherhood and terror every where in the world. The Bangladesh Awami League shall constantly remain vigilant to follow and implement the aforesaid basic principles, goals and commitments and to create national unity, enthusiasm and new spirit. With unflinching devotion, honesty, discipline and firmness to the establishment of a developed and prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’ envisage by the Father of the Nation, Bongabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Procedure of Formation
4. The organizational strata of the Bangladesh Awami League shall be of the categories hereinafter following, namely:
a) The Bangladesh Awami League Council;
The President shall nominate a 41-member Advisory Council according to section 26. He shall discuss national and international issues with the Advisory Council.
The President shall form the departmental Sub-Committees (Secretarial Department)
The President shall supervise and co-ordinate the functions of the Sub-Committees if any organization fails to discharge the responsibility, the President shall take necessary steps in the matter and mention it in the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
b) Powers of the Presidium Members
The Presidium Members, according to section 19 of the Constitution, shall tender advice to the President about nomination of the members of the Executive Committee and, if necessary, through the President shall have the right to adopt and exercise any power conferred upon them by the Executive Committee or Council. The Presidium shall be entitled to chalk out and take decision on all programs including training on ideals, principles, aims, objectives, Programme and organizational affairs of the Bangladesh Awami League. The Presidium Members, in consultation with the Secretaries, shall be entitled to take important decisions on national as well as international issues for the sake of national unity, welfare and security in case of emergency. They, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee or Council, shall also have the right to take decisions on issues of utmost urgency and importance. Each of the members shall discharge the responsibilities assigned to him. The Presidium shall distribute joint responsibilities to its members. The Presidium Members shall in consultation with each other shall arrive at a consensus on all matters involved. If members for any reason are unable to reach a consensus on any matter, the decision of the majority of members shall be deemed to be final.
c) General Secretary
The General Secretary shall be the Chief-Executive Officer of the organization. He shall have the right to give advice and order to all Departmental Secretaries to discharge their functions. He shall call a meeting of the Secretaries at least once a month and, after discussing the progress of departmental functions in that meeting, take decision but the power of the final decision shall lie with the Executive Committee. He, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee, shall have the right to increase or reduce pay, grant leave and punish the officials of the organization. He shall make arrangements so that the decisions taken by the Presidium, Executive Committee, National Committee and Bangladesh Awami League, are fully executed through various Departments. The General Secretary, at every council meeting, shall present report on the activities of the organization. Moreover, he shall also apply the powers vested in him by National Committee or Council. He shall have the right to give the responsibility to any Joint-General Secretary or Departmental Secretaries to perform any functions of the organization in addition to the functions of their respective departments and they shall be obliged to act accordingly.
From time to time, the General Secretary, in consultation with the President of the organization, shall assign Division-wise administrative functions to the Organizing Secretaries, If the General Secretary is absent for any work, his functions and responsibilities, shall be vested in the Joint-General Secretary in order of their
Following the expiry of the duration of Primary Membership, the committee concerned shall be able to make recommendations to the District Awami League Executive Committee for conferring Full Membership upon the Primary Member. The District Awami League Executive Committee shall have the right to grant Full Membership a Primary Member. If there is no complaint against the member concerned, he or she shall gain Full Membership automatically after the expiration of the period of Primary Membership. Nobody shall be able to get elected to the Executive post at any level of the organization if he is not a full member.
III.) The Duration of Membership
Membership shall be effective from the first day of Baishakh of (the first day of Bangla year) up to the last day of Chaitra of the 3rd year. After the expiry of the duration of membership, as mentioned in this subsection, a member shall have the right to renew it by putting his signature to the specified form and paying the subscription at a fixed rate according to the section 5 (1)41
Functions & Powers of the Bangladesh Awami League office Bearers
25. a) President
The President shall be the chief of the organization. He will preside over all meetings of the Bangladesh Awami League Council, the National Committee, the Executive Committee and the Presidium Members and, if necessary, shall give a ruling by explaining any section of the Constitution.
- He shall announce the nomination of members of the Executive Committee according to section 19
- He in consultation with he Presidium Members, shall nominate members of the subject matter committee.
- The President shall give the responsibility to any Presidium Member to discharge the functions of the presidency.
- If the General Secretary does not summon a meeting, at the advice and direction of President, the President himself, according to section 22, shall have the right to call the meeting of the central Executive Committee or of the Presidium.
- He shall nominate 21 members of the National Committee according to section 17(a).
- In the absence of President or of the member in-charge, upon the motion made by a member and supported by another any Presidium Member the chair at any session or meeting.
- Secretaries of the Department shall be responsible to the for their activities names and, if the Joint-General Secretaries are absent, all their responsibilities be vested in the Departmental Secretaries in alphabetical order of the names of the Departments.
d) Departmental Secretaries
The Departmental Secretaries shall perform the functions of their respective department. They shall execute the decisions, directions and advice of the President, General Secretary, National Committee, Executive Committee and Bangladesh Awami League Council. If the departmental Secretaries feel it necessary to summon a meeting of the Executive Committee on any significant matter in their respective Departments, they shall apprise the General Secretary of the problems and request him to call a meeting. At every council meeting of the Bangladesh Awami League, the Departmental Secretaries, through reports of the General Secretary, shall make the councilors aware of the progress of activities of their respective Departments. The Executive Committee, if necessary, shall assign the duties to different Departments by making rules.
The total fund of the organization shall be entrusted with the treasurer. He shall operate the accounts of the party under joint signature with the President. Upon receipt of a written receipt from the General Secretary, he shall give the money.
f) Formation of Divisional Sub-Committees
The Bangladesh Awami league shall form a sub-committee in each Secretarial Department in order to make its work more expeditious and co-ordinate its programs. The aforesaid sub- committee shall comprise of 1 Chairman, 1 Secretary, not more than 5 Assistant Secretaries, required number of expert members, the President and General Secretary of the concerned Associate Organizations and a specified number of members. Members of the Bangladesh Awami League Parliamentary Party, who are members of different Standings Committees in Parliament shall ex-office, become the members of the Sub-committees related with the matters. The number of members of the sub-committee shall be fixed by the President of the Organization who shall constitute the sub-committees. The President shall nominate the Chairman of the sub-committee from among the members of the Presidium, Advisory Council and members of the Executive Committee of the members of the organization. The concerned Departmental Secretary shall be the Secretary of the sub-committee concerned.
The sub-committees shall help the department concerned to strengthen its activities, Each department shall collect, provide and conserve varieties of information, data, and statistics related to its activities and from time to time, prepare reports on the related issues. The meeting of the sub-committee shall be held at least once three months. The respective sub-committees shall evaluate their activities in the meeting and decide their tasks to be performed.
25. (1) Associate Organization
a) The Bangladesh Awami League Executive Committee shall decide the policies of Associate Organization of the Bangladesh Awami League. The concerned departmental Secretary of the Bangladesh Awami
b) The Bangladesh Awami League National Committee;
c) The Bangladesh Awami League Executive Committee:
I) President, II) Presidium, III) General Secretary, IV) Secretaries; V) Treasurer, and VI) 26 Members;
d) The Bangladesh Awami League Advisory Council;
e) The Bangladesh Awami League Parliamentary Board;
f) The Bangladesh Awami League Parliamentary Party;
g) The District Awami Leagues, Metropolitan City Awami Leagues including Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna,
Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet, and Awami League Branches approved by the Bangladesh Awami League
5. i.) With absolute faith in the aims and objectives of the Bangladesh Awami League, as laid down in section 2 of this Constitution, every citizen, aged 18 or above the age limit, male or female putting his/her signature to the given declaration in the specified form and paying the triennial subscription amounting to Tk 5.00 (Taka Five) shall be entitled to become members of the Bangladesh Awami League; if
a) he does not appear to be involved in any activities against the independence, sovereignty, state security, territorial integrity, national solidarity as well as state ideals, violent activities and public security of Bangladesh;
b) he is not a person who has surrendered his citizenship or whose citizenship has been nullified;
c) he is not a member of any other political party;
d) he does not believe in any discriminatory practice of religion, profession, caste and colour;
e) he is not a member of any organization, acting against the policies and principles of the Bangladesh Awami League;
f) he shall be obliged to take part in minimum training course of any type, and to carry out any order directed by the Bangladesh Awami League Executive Committee; and
g) shall pay the triennial subscription on a regular basis;
ii.) There shall be two types of membership in the organization, namely: a) Primary (Temporary Membership) and b) Full Membership. The candidate seeking to obtain membership of the party shall apply to the Primary or Branch Committee and pay Tk.5.00 (Taka Five), as triennial subscription along with the application. If membership of the candidate is approved at a general meeting of the Primary or Branch Committee he shall be deemed to be a Primary Member for one year beginning from the date of approval.
League shall supervise and co-ordinate the activities of Associate Organization. The Associate Organization, through the medium of the concerned secretary of the Bangladesh Awami League, shall be liable to the Bangladesh Awami League Executive Committee for its activities.
b) The Bangladesh Mahila Awami League, Bangladesh Krishok League, Jatiyo Sramik League, Bangladesh
Awami Jubo League, Awami Swechhashebok League, Bangladesh Chhatra League, Awami Ainjibee
Parishad, Bangladesh Tanti League and Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad shall be regarded as the
Associate Organizations of the Bangladesh Awami League.
c) The President and General Secretary of Associate Organization including specified number of members shall be deemed to be the delegates at the concerned strata of the Bangladesh Awami League.
d) The President/General Secretary of Associate Organization or any representative thereof, if invited, shall have the right to join at the meeting of the concerned strata of the Bangladesh Awami League.
Strategy of Recruitment. (The Awami League)
The formation of the Awami League provided a political platform for the rising intermediate class. However, its followers still lacked a political issue which could clearly, “set them apart from42 the ruling elite and could mobilize mass support behind them the 1950`S, the political front of the intermediate class in East Pakistan, i.e. the. AL repidly gained popularity in the province but in 1958, Martial law was promulgated, all political activities were banned for four years until 1962. Sheikh ‘Mujibur Rahmna, general secretary of the AL, the initiative in rebuilding the party in early 1964, by that time Suhrawardy had died and the restrictions on political activities had been lifted. He was convinced that the surplus farmers in the rural areas and the professionals, intellectuals ‘and students in the urban areas would, in order to acquire control over the instruments of patronage, identify themselves with the nationalist elements of the Awami League. Mujibur Rahrnan, therefore, revived the Awami League in 1 964, but soon found that, while the petty bourgeoisie cadres were adequate “winning elections.” they were unwilling to withstand a more fundamental confrontation.
his made him conscious of the need for mobilizing the peasants and workers behind the logins of “Bengali Nationalism”. It was at this stage that Mujib came up with the six-point Charter of Survival Program” for East Pakistan, which he announced at a national inference of opposition parties held in Lahore on February 5, 1966. The six point demand trouser mass consciousness sharply in East Pakistan as mass meetings and rallies were held broughout the province. All these activities helped to rejuvenate the moribund party rganisation of the Awami League.” The Awami League persisted with its movement for the implementation of the six points. Finally, Sheikh Mujib along with 35 associates were arrested on the charge of conspiring to bring about the secession of East Pakistan from Pakistan’ through an armed revolt with Indian help.44 arrest of Mujib enhanced his popularity to such an extend that he soon became the symbol of Bengali nationalism. On the other hand the conspiracy case against Mujib and his associates, made for an explosive political situation in ~ Pakistan. Many of the opposition political parties joined the six point movement and set up a new political group, the Democratic Action Committee (DAC). The various student organizations also united to form an all parties Student Action Committee (SAC) and demanded the release of Mujib. The SAC adopted an eleven-point-program incorporating, in addition to the six points, SOfl1C radical proposals. 45
Along with the growing popular movement of the opposition forces in East Pakistan, violent agitation also broke out in West Pakistan on the issue of Tashkent Agreement in 1966. The peasants, workers and middle classes joined in these movements as they were alienated from the regime because of deterioration in their standards of living. In the face of the strong popular movement in East Pakistan Ayub had no choice but to resign & to release sheikh Mujib and other political detainees.46
Soon after Yahya Khan’s announcement on the elections, the AL issued its election manifesto which incorporated the demands included in the point and eleven point programs. In order to pre-empt the attraction of the leftists workers and peasants, the manifesto pledged the nationalization of heavy “industries and financial institutions and workers’ participation “ in the equity capital as well as in the management of the enterprises.47 Due to the appeal of its political program to various sections of the community and the growing popularity of Mujib, the Awami League won a massive victory in the 1970 elections, obtaining 167 out of 169 sets allocated to East Pakistan in the National Assembly and 288 out of 300 sets in the provincial Assembly of East Pakistan.
Leadership of the Awami League :
The Awami League a political party was forced into being by the vernacular elites of Fast Pakistan who were suppressed by the old Muslim Leaguers of west Pakistan. But it could not be an umbrella party before the declaration of the 6 point through the leadership of Sheikh Mujib.
The Agartala conspiracy case made Sheikh Mujib the most important leader of the deprived masses of the then East Pakistan and hastened the fall of Ayub Khan. The victory of the 1970 general election made Sheikh Mujib the undisputed leader of East Pakistan, General Yahya declared him the future Prime Minister of Pakistan”. Unfortunately, political power was not transferred to Sheikh Mujib. This led to the most tragic event in the history of Pakistan-liberation war in Fast Pakistan.
Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign independent state after nine-months of liberation war. After independence, the country was to be rebuilt under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Large scale famine which threatened the existence of the country was avoided, ten million people who had migrated to India during the occupation period was rehabilitated. communications were restored by repairing about 3000 rail way bridged and 274 road bridges and so on. But this slow process of development disillusioned and frustrated the people with this, the political discontent against the regime, the unresolved latent contradictions Bangladesh lime famine of I 974 became a challeuige for the existing leadership. It was widely know throughout the world. As a result, relief came from each & every corner of the world. But the relief work was mismanaged, so, the popularity of the regime was diminishing day by day.
To overcome the growing dissatisfactions and disorder that characterized the regime the political leadership adopted drastic constitutional reforms such as one party rule change of govt. from Parliamentary to Presidential, reduction of the power of Judiciary etc.
Inspite of patriotic zeal and expressed concern for the masses, Mujib was failed to use political power to build new institutions or to strengthen old ones is that the institutionalization of power demands considerable sacrifice from leaders because they must transfer some of their power in order to bring about institutional base for needed change. Niujib’s so called decision to transfer power to build grassroots institutions met with the same failure as in the case of Auyh Khan’s plans for “basic democracies”.
Conflict resolution is one of the important qualities of leadership. The failure of Mujib regime to solve the conflicts among different groups is one of the causes of collapse of the regime.
After the independence, the leftist parties demanded for a national govt. consisting of the members participated in the liberation war. But the leaders refused to accept that proposal. There happened massive rigging in the elections of 1973 by the members of the AL. But no step as taken to stop or to prevent those riggings.
The ideology of Mujibbad has challenged by the Bangladesh Chatra League in May 1972. The pre-liberation “latent” conflicts within the BCL became “manifest” within six months after the independence of Bangladesh. The BCL was split into pro-Mujibbad group (SiddiquiMakkan) and anti Mujibbad group. Claiming that Mujibbad was a utopian concept. In response to the split of the student organisation, about 40,000 people were arrested under a special order during the years 1972-73. But when the pressure from the radical / leftist increased, Sheikh Mujib decided to release the collaborators, hoping that, if they are released, these workers and leaders of the Islamic Parties would counteract the activities of the radical left. On November 30, 1973 the AL govt. granted a general amnesty to co11aborators. 49 A number of special ordinances, directed against the radical leftists, were promulgated by the president amid passed by parliament during the 44 months of AL rule. All these measures, failed to stop the under ground activities of the opposition parties.
The split in the BCL brought about the break-up of the AL Labour front and also the AL affiliated Mukti Joddah Sangsad. A separate peasant front was also formed. Finally, on October 31, 1972, a new political part called Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-National Socialist Party) was formed under the leader ship of A.S.M. Abdur Rab, Major M.A. Jalil.
In the parliamentary party of the AL Tajuddin Ahmed led a group that opposed accepting aid from the ~imperia1ist nations” particu1arly from U.S.A and took a generally pro-Indian and pro-Soviet Stance. The Tajuddin group believed that the policy of mixed economy should be abandoned in favour of a pure socialist one, sine the nationalization of industries and foreign trade without the nationalization of the distribute system had created economic uncertainty and inflation. Another parliamentary group, Syed Nazrul Islam and Khandokar Ntashatq Ahmed was less anti-American and was whiling to accept foreign aid as well as to continue the mixed economy. At the beginning, the Prime Minister tried to maintain a balance between the two groups. In the middle of 1974, when the economic situation reached in a critical position and massive foreign aid was required, Mujib tilted the balance in favour of the rightist faction” of the AL. On July 7, six ministers submitted their resignations to the president which, on the advice of the Prime Minister, were accepted. Sheikh Mujib forced Tajuddin Ahmed to resign on October 26, 1974, making him a scapegoat for the economic crisis.
From the beginning of 1974, there had been continuous reports about conflicts among the younger AL cadres while Abdur Razzak, organizing secretary of the AL and Tofael Ahmed, political secretary of the Prime Minister, led one group younger AL workers and a major section of the students’ League affiliated with the AL. Sheikh Faziul Huq Moni, Chairman of the Awami Jubo (Youth) League (AJL) and a nephew o~ the Prime Minister, led another group of younger AL workers and a minority faction in the students’ League. In March April, mutual recriminations and continuous intrigues among the two groups took a serious turn.
But Mujib was ailed to minimize those conflicts. So, he was deprived from patronization of any civilian institutional group in Bangladesh to implement Mujib’s Programme of development.
After the demise of Shcikh Mujibur Raliman, the leadership Was fragmented for the time being. The senior leaders were scrambling for the supreme leadership of the party. But the other leaders were not known or accepted to the people. In 1991 Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Sheikh Mujihur Rahman, was an amateur in politics, was elected unanimously the president of the party.
Dr. Kamal Hossain a renowned lawyer and leader of the AL left the party as a protest of taking leadership of the party by Sheikh Hasina. But she was little concerned about it.
During the movement against the autocratic regime, she successfully led the 15 party alliance till 1986. In 1986, when all the alliances decided for not to go to the election under Ershad. then to the surprise of many, she decided to participate in the election. Sheikh Hasina claimed that her party’s participation in that election was a strategy to continue the movement against the regime from inside the parliament as well as from the outside. But her decision was denounced by most of the people. It was also a sudden blow for the supporters of the AL. And the party had to pay a very high price as seven of its component parties snapped their ties with the alliance in protest against its decision to participate in the e1ection.51 The Al could not attract a large part of younger group as the leader showed a compromising tendency in the election of l986. 52
While it was hard to prove such accusations, the AL leadership failed to disprove the accusation either. Because, she could not stop the controversial Zilla Parishad Bill, passing of the amendment Bill to legalise all the activities taken by President Ershad during the Martial law period. Though she left the parliament in protest against passing the Zilla Parishad Bill and also did not participate in the Presidential Election, but the party participated in the upozilla election.
During the movement, the leadership of the AL did not the to compromise with ideologically different political parties for the sake of the Government also. This ideological rigidity and uncompromising attitude of the leadership were not appreciated by the people.
But their leadership was quite good when they were in the opposition in the parliament of’ 1991. Then, they were able to mobilize the people in favour of parliamentary form of govt. and care taker govt. issue. This was a great achievement of’ time AL, leadership.
Genesis and Establishment Bangladesh Nationalist Party:
Bangladesh emerged as a nation state in 1971. This was the final outcome of a nationalist movement and like many other nations of Asia and Africa, it won independence as sovereign state after a protracted war of liberation. After independence. Mujib, the leader of the freedom movement, organized the govt. on a parliamentary model based on liberal democratic values and beliefs. The system was a multi party one as it exists in neighboring India and some other Asian Countries. Inspire of this multi party model, the Awami -League (AL) govt. eventually banded all the extreme leftist parties. Having been banned, these parties went underground and fought armed battles with the govt. at several places. The National Awami Party—I3hashani (NAP-B), United People’s Party (UPP) and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) worked in the front line of the underground parties with large student support. But these parties failed to provide a viable national alternative to AL. The AL under the leadership of Mujib was the only dominant party in Bangladesh during the period of 1972-1975. The reason for this was that the AL led the war of independence and its leaders could successfully claim in the initial days of euphoria an aura of popular acceptability. As a result, strong opposition could not grow up and Bangladesh, like Pakistan, foiled to develop a competitive party system from the very beginning.
As in other newly independent countries, Bangladesh had to deal with diverse problems cornets very inception the AL govt. under Mujib faced the serious task of uniting the various groups, which had participated in the war of independence. Unfortunately, the AL had very little experience of political management and could not cope with the problems it had to deal with. It has been observed that in this part of the world, political Parties have never been a major decisive instrument for framing public, policy or for projecting their alternatives. They have also had few opportunities for open activity and competitive politics has generally been throttled by ruling elite. This is partly due to the colonial legacy. After independence, many restrictions were imposed on the free functioning of political parties. These factors did not encourage them to serve as agents of effective allocation of values or as an arena of conflict resolution or as meaningful foci for civic loyalty.
In addition to this, Bangladesh has its own peculiar socio-political history. Expressing an opinion on the nature of his country’s political process, a Bangladesh scholar observes that the endemic poverty of the people, intense factionalism among the social groups and classic and a net work of patron—client relationship reaching from the rural grassroots to central politico bureaucratic elite at national level have resulted not only in organizational weakness and a very low level of institutionalization in polity, but also in institutional fragmentation.
As revolutionary upheaval generally leads to violence and turmoil, Bangladesh faced serious problems in its political finesse and economic fields after independence. There were inner conflicts and dissidence with the ruling AL (which included even the use of arms). There was a general insecurity, which manifested itself in corruption and the looting of Banks. At the same, time inflation with continuously spiraling prices of essential commodities and an overall deterioration in the social and economic life of the people led to severe criticism from the opposition parties which was, of course, some times exaggerated and even irresponsible. The ruling AL was greatly disturbed by the prevailing conditions and reacted sensitively. A tripartite alliance comprising the AL, NAP-led by Muzaffar Ahmed and Communist Party of Bangladesh was formed by the govt. to cope with the situation, but it did not succeed and Mujib declared an emergency in a bold attempt to override the crisis and to implement what he called a “Second Revolution Programme”. It is probable that Mujib’s desire to remain in power led him to convert the parliamentary system into a presidential form of’ govt. under the rule of one party -Bangladesh Krishak Shramik Awami League (BAKSAL). ‘I’his move led to the breakdown of multi-party system in Bangladesh. Mujib’s presidential form of govt under BAKSAL, however did not last long. It was over thrown on August-15, 1975 by a military coup.
General Ziaur Rahman came to power through a popular sepoy revolution on Nov., 7, 1975. His meteoric rise to power was followed by a number of coups and counter coups in the wake of the assassination of Sheikh Mujihur Rahman. Bangladesh politics was then dominated by two centres – the dethroned pro-Mujib forces known to be pro-Moscow and the Military regime of General Zia supported by different anti-Mujib groups and a large majority of the masses. Against this backdrop, general Zia followed a policy of balance between the armed forces and civilian groups. To do this, he initiated a political process and at one stage, launched the BNP as a result of the civilian legitimization of his Military regime as well as to ensure mass participation through political institutions. Thus the BNP emerged as a political plat form out of a historical necessity and helped general Zia to mobilise popular support in his favour and communicate his ideas to the masses.
Growth and Development of the BNP:
The 99-point programme was originally issued as a manifesto by Zia during the referendum held on May 30, 1977. In course of time, this became the programme of the BNP. The main feature of this programme was that it was general in nature and content and promised to provide the people’s basic needs, such as loud, clothing, shelter, health facilities and mass literacy. The programme also offered amenities to women, youths workers and govt. employees. It proposed certain economic and administrative the most important of ‘them being encouragement to private enterprise. The participation of the people in development activities and the decentralization of’ the administration was proposed and great importance of national sell-reliance was highlighted. The social order was to be based on Justice and play. I low ever, implementation of’ ‘the 19 point progmamme was avowedly declared as the main objective of the BNP. A broad discussion of the main features of the 19-point programme and its implementation can be meaningfully understood under the following headings:
At ‘the outset, the BNP govt. revoked some of the harsh measures of the BAKSAL Programme.55 But in the post 1975 period, while Ziaur Rahman was attempting to consolidate the administrative state, serious opposition to his regime emerged. During the first three years of his rule, open politic2i activities were prohibited and many opposition political leaders were put in prison. The Awami League and the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) were opposed to his regime. Zia responded to the threats of these parties in two ways-by means of repression and by means of manipulation that is, a policy of “Stick and Carrots”. Of the various opposition parties, Zia considered the AL and the JSD as his two major opponents and many of the leaders and workers of both these parties were arrested and thorn into jail and through a special tribunal, the leader of the Biplobi Gono Bahini, colonel Taher, was sentenced to death.57 also adopted a policy of divide and rule. lie secretly assured some JSD leaders of economic and political opportunities if they remained quiet and the result was a split in (lie JSI) amid the emergence of a new party Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), under Awal. In the same way, while many of the Awami League leaders including Abdul Malek Ukil were put into prison, others were inducted into the BNP. Not 1; only that the civil military bureaucrats came to occupy important port folios in the state apparatus with the overthrow of the “inter mediate state” under Mujib. In the national state apparatus the main structures of decision making were the office of the president and his secretary ate the council of Ministers of the secretariat.
After the parliamentary elections in 1979, President Ziaur Rahman formed a council of Ministers, whose members were appointed by the president & held office at his pleasure. The parliament itself’ had been elected under terms and conditions set by the President amid could he summoned, prorogued and dissolved by him at will.58 Earlier in December 1978, Zia had declared another amendment to the constitution, providing that –
- The president could appoint one fifth of the membership of the council of Ministers from among people who were not members of parliament.
- The president had the right to with hold assent from any bill passed by parliament, which could he overridden, only in a national referendum.
- The president could enter into any treaties with foreign nations in the national interest without informing the parliament.
Thus during the five and half years of Zia’s rule, the civil-military bureaucrats were dominant in the council of Ministers and its predecessor body, the council of advisers. The civil military bureaucrats became dominant again not only in the cabinet, secretariat, divisions and institutions, such as, the National Economic Council (NEC) and the planning commission and in the public corporations.
Thus three major groups – the BNP, the civil bureaucracy and the military bureaucracy were dominant in Zia’s administrative state. In a strict sense of the term, the BNP was not a simple political party; it was a multi-dimensional “umbrella” party. Hastily assembled under the energetic leadership of Zia and considered a dramatical1y~opposed interests and ideological groups. Apparently, there was no meeting ground, for example, between the Islamic fundamentalists and the leftisi factions within the party’. The BNP thus contained the germs of conflict at its very birth. As ‘a “Sarkari” (govt.) party, the BNP attracted those people who expected a share in state “patronage and power59 as the Janata Party did in India, such did not join the party because of its ideology or progrme. Consequently, the ‘success of the BNP depended on the access of its members to the state machinery rather than on the support of the people. None the less, the BNP govt. sought to broaden its base by involving the masses in politics and for this purpose, created various institutions and association.
During the period 197 1-75, the state under Mujib had followed a strategy of development which emphasized in every possible way the extension of slate participation in protection activities. Its miniaturist was the expansion of’ the public sector. In 1975, when Ziaur Rahman came to power, the new state adopted an entirely different policy of development. The main direction of the new policy was to encourage private enterprise, enciphering export oriented industry and promoting a high rate of production. The primary goal of the strategy was to maximize GNP growth rate through all out encouragement of the private sector.61 The First plan (1 973—78), formulated under Mujib, has been in operation in 1975, the new regime therefore, instead of changing the whole plan, revised the plan targets for the remaining three years 1975-1978. The bureaucrats formulated a “Three year hard core plan” which called for greater attention and a higher allocation of resources to the private sector, particularly to the industrial sector. Private investment in industry increased from Tk. 87.4 million in 1973-74 to Tk. 2091.4 million in 1977-l978.”62 The hard core plan was followed by a two-year plan (1978-80) which was formulated on the basis of Zia’s 19-point programme, promising in part to achieve a high rate of economic growth compared to that achieved during the first plan. By the time of Zia’s death in mid 1981, the Second Five Year Plan (1980-85) had been prepared in which the private sector was also .given greater importance. Increased participation of the private sector was envisaged in the second plan, with an allocation of Tk. 54.7 million. This accounted for about 22 percent of ‘the total plan outlay, as compared with 13 percent allocated in the First Five Year Plan and the Two Year Plan.” In particular, private investment in the manufacturing sector during the second plan was envisaged to be Tk. 11.00 million or 20 percent of the expected total private investment.
The quick achievement of a higher rate of growth was considered essential for the survival and stability of the country as well as for gaining political legitimacy for the regime. The development strategy of Zia’s regime resulted in respectable economic growth. Growth rates computed in terms of broad aggregates like agricultural and industrial’ production, Gross National Product were really impressive. The state under Mujib had fared badly in terms of economic development, most of the planned targets had remained unfulfilled. The main goal of Mujib’s regime was to reach the bench mark level of 1969-70 but by 1974-75, agricultural output was still below (94%) that level and industrial production even lower (87%). Even though the First Five Year Plan formulated under Mujib, only the first two years were implemented during Mujib’s rule while the last three years were implemented under Zia. There was a significant improvement in growth performance in the Zia period as compared to the near stagnation of the Mujib period.
The economic growth of’ Bangladesh that took place alter the fall of Mujib in 1975 generally increased the popularity of’ the Zia regime. According to the London Times,” by and large, President Ziaur Rahman has led the country away from false hopes and pointless quarrels.” The best assessment of Zia’s achievement was given by the “Financial Times” of London in 1979: General Zia’s achievements since winning power in a bloody coup in 1975 have been considerable. He has not only thought relative stability hut has lived by all his political promises. He has won international for himself and his country; it would no longer be fair to describe Brigades as the “basket case” of’ the developing world, as Kissinger did a few years ago. To the credit of the Present regime, economic growth since 1975 has improved.65
Its result was manifested in the electoral victory of the party as well as in the electoral victory of Zia in the referendum and in the presidential election. In the referendum Zia von a massive vote of confidence with an affirmative vote of 99.5% from among the 85%.voter turn out.”63 The referendum gave Zia a strong sense of confidence about his authority in Bangladesh. In the presidential election, Zia won a landslide victory, securing 76% of the more than 53% voter turn out. Though this election for a five year term, but Zia had turned himself’ from a “spldier” to a “politician”. General Osmani on the other hand, received 21 % of the votes cast65-68 who was the nominee of Gonotantrik Oikyo Jote (Democratic United Front) which was composed of the Awami League, NAP(Mujaffar), People’s League, Jatio Janata Party and Gono Azadi League. The result of he parliamentary elections held in February 1979, were a veritable endorsement of Zia’s regime ~with his BNP winning more than two thirds of the seats, on the basis of a share of 41 2% in the total votes cast. As against the BNP’s 20 seats, the AL (Malek) won only 40, the ML-IDL 19, the JSD 9, AL (MIZAN) 2 & other minor parties 7. After the election 10 of 17 independent members joined the BNP. The massive victory of the UNP underlined the continued confidence oh the public in the leadership of president Zia, the soldier turned politician.
With the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman in May 1981, Vice President Abdus Satter became acting President of Bangladesh. A fresh presidential election was held on October 15, 1981 in which Abdus Satter won a landslide victory by securing 65.5% of the votes cast. But within three months of the presidential election, the Army’s Chief of Staff, Lt. General Hussain Niuhammad Ershad seized power from him on March 24, 1982 under martial law and suspended the constitution. Many of the ministers of Sattar’s regime were arrested on charge of corruption. Since political activities were banned under martial law, the open opposition to the regime was not possible at least one year. But the traumatic events of mid- February 1983 when at least five persons were killed and hundreds of students and police were injured. led BNP and other parties to be united against the regime. Which placed five point charter of demands that included, immediate withdrawal of martial law, restoration of fundamental rights, parliamentary elections preceding and other election; release of political prisoners and the trial of persons responsible for the mid -February student kilhing.66 The govt. refused to meet the demands of the opposition. But, meanwhile, the govt. allowed indoor political activities from April 1983 and the ban on open political activities was withdrawn from November and the date for presidential election was announced to be held on May 24, 1984, which would be followed by parliamentary election on November 25. which did not satisfy the opposition and resulted in strike on November 28, 1983. The govt. then shifted the date of holding parliamentary election on December 8, 1 984. But this proposal also rejected by the opposition on the ground that no election could take place under martial law. But Erashad refused to withdraw martial law though lie promised to loose those laws. Finally, on January 15, 1985 Erahad announced the parliamentary election to be held on April 6, in also the opposition alliances refused to participate. Meanwhile, the opposition alliances announced a co-ordinate programme of “direct action” to over throw the military regime unless there was announcement by the end of February of a definite polling date for parliamentary elections on December 8, 1984. But this proposal also govt. In response to the demands of the opposition, the president announced at a Dhaka on February 13 the possibility of’ holding national duct ions in Subsequently, in a national broadcast on March 2, he proclaimed that elections to the Jatiyo Sangsad (parliament) would be held in the last week of April. Despite the mass agitation against the regime, the main weak point of the opposition was their failure to forge a united movement. On March 18 both alliances, for the first time since they had begun their anti Ershad movement four years earlier, vowed jointly to “ resist anyone who will contest the polls.” But the rift in their unity occured on the night of March 21 when the Awami League Alliance decided to participate in the election. The BNP, on the other hand, demanded the fulfillment of three preconditions for participating in the parliamentary election – restoration of fundamental rights, release of all political prisoners and annulment of the judgment against politicians convicted under martial law.” The BNP urged the people not to participate in the election. As a result, the BNP 1eader Khaleda Zia was confined to her house during the immediate pre-election and post election periods.
The formal ending of martial law with the conclusion of presidential elections could not the resignation of president Erashad that there would he a fresh election which would ensure its participation in the parliament. But as the Awami League was not ready to resign from the parliament and as the govt. did not agree to dissolve the parliament, so the BNP, lastly realized that their demand would not he effect ye unless they dropped their demand for the dissolution of parliament. Not only that, because of the lack of unity among all the opposition alliances, provided the regime with the advantage of ruling without any meaningful opposition. So, instead of facing the govt. and the 8 party alliance simultaneously, the 7 party and 5 party alliances altered their strategy to the former singly and to make extorts neutralize the latter. Both the alliances then opted for a one point movement, i.e. resignation of President Ershad.
Considering the futility of participation in election under Ershad govt. all major opposition parties, including the RNP, decided to boycott the fourth parliamentary election seemed in 1 989 that the Opposition part ft’s and all lances were gradually losing their protracted political battle against the Ershad regime. But the movement got back its momentum on October 10, 1990. In a fierce confrontation between the security force and the political activities during a massive demonstration by the opposition forces, five persons here killed and hundreds, including Khaleda Zia, were injured killing provoked 22 major student organizations to form all party students unity and that followed by the unity of the professionals against the regime and Ershad had to yield to the united movement of the opposition alliances and parties and on December 6, 1990 handed over power to a caretaker govt. headed by Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed. On February 27th, 1991, the parliamentary elections were held and the BNP won in 140 seats and the AL in 88 seats. But before the elections, in many surveys, it was seen that the AL will win more seats than the BNP. Later, it was discussed among many groups. According to them, People in this country go for hero worship. Begum Zia’s uncompromising attitude, her relentless struggle and her firm challenge of the autocratic regime of Ershad earned for her deep respect and love of people. She won the halo of a hero. During her public meetings throughout her political ~career, specially during the election campaign, she refrained from expressing personal malice against the leaders of her rival parties .She explained forcefully the ills of the Erashad regime and gave positive programme basing on the 19 point programme of her late husband Ziaur Rahman. She addressed meeting & after meeting tire1es~ly explaining the stand of her party and promising what she would do if elected to power.
BNP could attract larger younger group and student force on its side than the Awami League. The student force appreciated the uncompromising stand of l3egum Zia in her long years of struggle against the autocratic regime of Frahad while Awami League’s participation in the 1986 election was not appreciated by the majority of the students and the people. Though Sheikh Hasina had been claiming that her party’s participation in that election was a strategy to continue the movement against the regime both inside the parliament and on the streets, many people were not convinced.
Many political observers commented that her speech over the television that evening brought her more than l0 percent additional votes, as Shcikh Hasina’s address, full of aggression and malice, reduced her party’s vote at least by that margin. Both 1 sofuil Aluned and Razzaque commented that Sheikh Hasina’s pre-election. T.V. address created an adverse reaction in the minds of voters Syed Altaf Hossain of NAP expressed that vanity was the cause of defeat of Awami League in the election. Saifuddin Manik, General Secretary, Bangladesh Communist Party also echoed the same sentiment.
Historically, and organizationally, BNP was a weaker party compared to Awami League its main rival in the election. BNP was founded only 12 years ago form a position of power and hen that power was gone, many apprehended that the party will disappear. BNP had not its proper organization even in thane, union and word level. BNP had no experience of elector before, as a party in the opposition. But it could play a good role through its programmes and performance. It was high time for it and after assuming power its support was decreasing.
On the 23rd March, Begum Khaleda Zia started her work formally. Addressing the secretaries and other high ranking officers of the administration on the day, she spelt out her policies and sought their co-operation in fulfilling the commitments her party had made to the people. Although the democratic process had to pass through a difficult terrain, during the first three years it seemed to many that, at long last, a stable democratic tradition was perhaps gradually taking root in the country.
Here, the development of different sectors are discussed below: –
Economic development :
The country is on the verge of attaining self reliance in cereal production with an annual deficit reduced to the size of some 2.5 to 4.5 million tons depending on the seasonal variations. Food production increased from 10 million metric tons in 1969-70 to 19.4 metric tons in 1992-93 indicating about double production over the period. 68 Recent ESCAP Survey 1995 indicates that economic prospects indicates that economic prospect had been brighter with the achievement of macro economic stability, sound fiscal policy, financial sector reforms, growth in exports, upword trend in industrial growth.69 Due to progressive mobilization of domestic resources foreign aid financing of ADP has declined from 75% in 1990-91 to 60% in 1993-94” 70
Though steady improvements over the years, the marco fundamentals indicate a deteriorating picture. The defict was expanding with rate of import foster than that of export. Inflation had been reported to shoot up 8% The twin influence was apprehended to affect the stabilization packages very badly. The level of foreign reserve fell from all time high of 3.5 billion US$.or worth of 8 months import have come down to over 2 billion US$ or equivalent to 4 months import. Both foreign direct investment (FDI) and equity investment showed drastic fall the current fiscal year. 71 However, the latest information mentioned that the country’s export earnings in the first six months of the current fiscal year has been US$ 2.04 billion which is 7.89% higher than the target.72
Pakistan 4%, Sri Lanka 5.9% and Nepal 8%, China is reported to have topped the list with an impressive 11 .9% in the ES CAP region. According to the same report agriculture growth rate had been reported to he 2.6% in Bangladesh in 1995 which was termed highest during the 1990S. 1 lie industrial growth rate was reported to be 8.3% which was the highest during the current decade. The service sector had a modest growth rate of 5.3%. The sartorial share of agriculture industry and services in GD1~ for 1993-94 had been reported to he 30.5%. 17.7% and 51.8%, respectively.73
Political development :
Although the democratic process had to pass through a difficult terrain, during the first three years it seemed to many that, at long last, a stable democratic tradition was perhaps gradually taking root in the country. Major political parties represented in the parliament (excepting Jatiya Party which abstained from voting) reached a consensus to bring about necessary constitutional changes, through the 12th amendment to the constitution, for restoration of parliamentary democracy in the country. The parliament was having regular sessions. parliamentary committees were functioning routinely, although not as per expectation of the general population. There were tension at times during parliamentary debates and the speaker was in general, able to maintain the norms and decorum of democratic traditions of the parliamentary system.
The experience of’ the 1991 govt. and elections conducted by it caught the imagination of the general public A sizeable segment of the population came to believe that a non—partisan caretaker govt. as a necessary for ensuring free and fair elections in the country. Two separate bills were tabled in the parliament by the Jammat-i-Islami (JI) and the Awami League (AL) to install a non party, caretaker govt. The bill envisaged that necessary constitutional amendments to be made so that the next three parliamentary elections could be held under a non-party care-taker govt. the Prime Minister was to resign 90 days prior to the election date and handover power to the mourner the caretaker govt. The ruling party was apparently not enthusiastic about holding a debate in the parliament on these bills, rather BNP leaders emphasized that since BNP came to power through free and fair election and has the people’s mandate, it was not possible for it to hand over power to an unelected body. The ruling leaders stressed that the route to free and elections was through strengthening of he Election Commission.
The crisis that ultimately led to the formation o the non-partisan, caretaker govt. and to the holding of elections on 12 June, 1996 originated with the controversial by election in the Magura-2 constituency which was held on 20 March, 1994. The seat was held by an Awami League MP and fell vacant on his death. Earlier the members of’ the opposition parties staged a walkout of 1 March 1994 in protest against the ream’s of the then information Minsiter during a debate on Hebron massacre. It was widely expected that they would return to the parliament following mediation which were taking place at the time. The by election was won the BNP candidate amidst widespread allegations of rigging, violence and connivance of the local administration with the ruling party. The Election Commission became subject 01 vehement criticism by all the major opposition parties. As a result the demand for holding of elections under a non-party caretaker govt. became a clarion call of the opposition. This single issue helped to forge an alliance between Awami League, Jatiya Party and Jammat-e-Islami who had been bitter enemies in the past. The opposition parties jointly demanded that the ruling party should give consent to the holding of elections under a non party neutral govt. after the Prime Minister resigns 90 days prior to elections to the sixth parliament.
A number of initiatives were under taken by various quarters to resolve the political statement. But all these initiatives also could not achieve its objective. On the advice of the then Prime Minister, the President dissolved the fifth parliament on 24 November 1995.
Under the constitution, elections to the sixth parliament had to be held by 21 1”ebruary 1996. The ruling party had no other alternative but to go ahead with the preparation of the elections to the sixth parliament. The election was held on 1 5 February 1996. It was boycotted by all the major opposition political parties. The voting took place amidst call for resistance and goon curfew (People’s curfew) declared by the opposition parties. The election marked by wide spread violence and intimidation, were poorly administered and voter turnout was low. In some places BNP supporters stuffed ballot boxes and authorities reported unbelievable figures of voter turnout. About 9 people died on election day violence. Results of only 210 seats could be declared initially, followed by another 79, re-polling was to take place in 80 constituencies, no election could be conducted in 10 constituencies and elections could not be held in one due to legal complications.
The opposition party’s agitation reached a crescendo, with the movement focused on only a single demand-the resignation of the Prime Minister. The ruling party emphasized that the holding of elections to the sixth parliament has helped to avoid a grave constitutional crisis. The govt justified the February election on the ground that it was then possible to hold the elections to parliament with the participation of all political parties. Necessary constitutional amendments would be passed in the sixth parliament to ensure that an election which was acceptable to all the political parties could be held. I low ever, the opposition parties were steadfast in their demand that the P.M. had to first resign. In her speech to the nation on 3 March 1996, the former P.M. in principle agreed to the proposal of a non-party caretaker govt. She invited the opposition parties to negotiate in order to exchange ideas about the modalities of constituting the govt. The BNP met the president on that March and the position on 10th March. But these initiatives did nothing to solve the crisis. But the ruling party made the necessary constitutional changes for a caretaker govt. to hold all future elections in Bangladesh. They called the first session of the sixth parliament on March 1996. And the non-party caretaker bill was tabled on the 21st March and the 13th amendment to the constitution was passed by the parliament on 25th March 1996. On 30th March 1996 the P.M. met the President and asked to dissolve the sixth parliament. Though the resignation was called by the opposition as a victory of the “People’s movement, the ruling party projected it as a “victory of the ruling party” as the BNP had been able to transfer power constitutionally.
The election was held on 12th June 1996. The AL won in 146 seats, while the BNP won in 116 seats, though the NBP charged of rigging and irregularity in the elections. But the observers called it as a free and fair election. The political observers identified sot tie causes which were the root of their defeat in the elections.
The BNP suffered from issue crisis in this election. Their anti-Indian talks, religious stanu could not attract the people any more. The Farrakka problem, Santibahini problem was not solved during their reign and they were not very sincere in solving these problems. There were nothing radical in their manifesto. The media was against the BNP their activities were not presented properly. Sometimes they were misinterpreted. At the same time, they identified the Awami League period as a time of’misrule. But they were not able to justify their activities to the voters. They did not show any accountability to the voters. They remained busy to criticise the AL, rather to purify themselves. But the caretaker govt issue according to the political thinkers sank all the performances of the BNP. They did not want to accept it though most people were in favour of’ that. But the BNP was not concerned about it, rather they were firm in their step for not to agree to the proposal. According to the party policy makers, if they would accept the care taker govt issue on principle before the 6th parliamentary election, then it would be helpful for them. After that, the way of holding the ~ parliamentary election and its unbelievable result also disheartened the general people.
After the dissolution of the Upazilla system, the BNP did not introduce any kind of’ local govt. As a result they failed to create any kind of local beneficiaries.
The election campaign was not very co-ordinate. They were very confident about them. So, they were not very sincere about campaign.
The performance of the home minister was not excusable. The degradation of law and order repression upon the students, killing of the peasants etc. affected the people too much. The govt. would fire him or at least would call explanation about these from him. By this way, they would be free from the accusation. As they did not do it, so they had to bear all the responsibilities collectively.
As a result they could not satisfy any class of people. Specially, the intellectuals went from this party, as they were not served by the party. 74
Political Ideology of The Bangladesh Nationalist Party :
The BN P’s ideology was statist faith in “Bangladeshi nationalism” was the major party platform. The Party proclamation which laid down seventeen goals and objectives, clearly established BNP’s image as a centrist pragmatic party.75 Through an ordinance, Zia also amended the constitutional principles of state ideology, i.e. nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism. As a result of the amendment, Bangladesh ceased to be a secular state and the state’s commitment to socialism was diluted. The amendment (5th amendment) deleted “secularism” as one of the principles of state ideology and in its place asserted “absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah”. Bangladesh did not become an Islamic Republic but the amendment stressed that “the state shall endeavor to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic sdlidarity”. Socialism was also redefined to mean “economic and social justice”. Further, the amendment stipulated that a citizen of Bangladesh would be termed as “Bangladeshi” and not as a “Bengalee” as provided for in the 1972 constitution. This policy to give a territorial rather than an ethnic linguistic definition of citizenship was undertaken to please the Islamists, who favoured a ‘territorial definition of a nation hood to differentiate the citizens of Bangladesh from the Bengalis in India’76 is seen in the third world countries that the constitutions of these states often reflect the manifesto of the party in power and the same thing happened in Bangladesh. The constitution was changed by the parties in power. Zia felt the need to infuse a sense of separate national identity and to consolidate his support base w amending the constitution of 1972.
Bangladeshi Nationalism :
Scholars and analysts have often observed that the main problem of the new states is the maintenance of integration, which is even more important than their economic development in the transitional period. Rupert Emerson says that developing countries “are not yet nations in being but only in hope.77 Bang1adesh also has been facing the crisis of nation building. After independence, a specially Bengalee Nationalism was kept as one of the four fundamentals of the state within which many controversial questions were hindden. according to the BNP this theme should be discarded for the following reasons.
Bangladeshis as a linguistic group differ from others in the sub—continent, though they share a common language and have territorial propinquity with the people of the Indian State of west Bengal. Because, from the beginning of their recorded history in the early sixth country AD the people of the two areas roughly corresponding to Bangladesh and West. Bengal maintained separate identities even when sharing common rulers ‘and a common name. For nearly six centuries the two areas took different names- Bangladesh areas being usually called Vanga and West Bengal region Ganda. The two ancient Bengals differed fundamentally in the cultural field. The Ganda came early under aryan colonization and Aryan culture.
But the Aryan influence could hardly penetrate into Mongoloid, Buddhist in habitants of vanga.78 Politically, the vangas valued independence, resisted foreign’ invation and showed love for extreme individualism. The Gandas, on the other hand, easily succumbed to foreign invasion, gave imperial powers slight resistance and lacked individualistic orientation.79
Beginning in 1204 the two Bengals continued to diverge for more than 500 years of Muslim rule. Always fearful of being swamped by “the Aryans and half-caste Aryans the people of’ East Bengal rediscovered their own identity through their mass conversion to Islam. This swift change of religion of the people of “Bangla,” to perpetuate differences between the two Bengals. In accepting Islam, however, the Bengales kept their basic political character. The I3ari Rhuiyans’ resistance to Mughal supremacy offered one of many examples of the spirit of Bengali independence. True to their tradition, the people of Fast Bengal also challenged the British rule with rebel rebellion. A series of serious peasant revolts took place in various parts of East Bengal in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Bengal people, on the other hand, had accepted for long the British rule without much demur.
The British govt. recognized for the first time, the separate identities of’ East and West Bengals when Lord Curzon, for administrative as well as political reasons, partitioned Bengal in 1905 roughly along the historically evolved line of demarcation between Vanga and Ganda. Although the partition of Bengal was annulled in 1911 on the pressure of the Caste Hindus of Calcutta; but at the same time, the division took place roughly along the historically demarcated line -Vanga-Ganda.
After 1947, the power – structure in Pakistan was so developed that the East Bengalis soon found themselves far removed from the decision-making positions. Their ancient pursuit of freedom proved illusory. They failed to become masters of their own destiny. The people of East Bengal quickly reasserted their distinct national identity. In rapid succession the language movement, the 1954 elections, the anti – Ayub movement of 1962, the six point movement of 1966, the mass upheaval of 1969, and the 1970 elections. Finally came the people’s liberation war of 1971.
In that war, Bangladesh made supreme sacrifice, in blood and gold. About 1 to 3 million people died. Properties worth millions of Taka were destroyed. Yet Bangladeshi nationalism at its most sublime form was achieved. The war created a nation of gallant men who won independence from the most brutal perpetrators of genocide and that birth may be the greatest force ensuring the nation’s continuity. The revolution created heroes, myths and a vision of golden Bengal of which Bangladeshi ‘generations yet unborn’ will remain proud. This pride will sustain them as they try to finish the task of realizing a golden Bengal.81
So, through the above said statement, it is evident that though the people of Bangladesh and the people of west Bengal lives contiguously and also have a linguistic similarity, but they donut belong to the same nation.
After independence, there created many challenges, which needed a separate identification other than a comprehensive one depends on linguistic similarity and territorial contiguity. These challenges and conflicts arose between Hindus and Muslims, l3engalees and now. Bangalees, people of Hill tracts versus people of plain lands. Etc. Most of these people did not like to become Bengaless which depends on linguistic similarity. These conflicts generate. Zia invented Bangladeshi nationalism emphasizing territorial identity which could unite all classes of people. The concept of Bangladeshi nationalism as defined by Zia is based on some fundamental principles. They are: race, the war of independence, the Bengali lands (geographical area), culture and economy.82 He stated that Bangladeshi nationalism aims to establish a society free from exploitation and to fulfil the basic needs of the people consistent with equality and justice. This would involve the participation of the masses in politics and in the developmental programmes of the govt. and would build rural institutions for self reliance.
In the words of Abdur Razzak, the national professor of’ Bangladesh, the rationale of Bangladesh lies in its being a state with its own territorial limits and unity.83 Moudud Ahmed, Deputy Prime Minister and political scientist said that the ethos of the people makes Bangladesh a separate entity. In terms of these ideas the concept of nationalism has to be redefined, because it is identified with the state and~ not with the origin of the people. “We are Bengalees,” he added, but the people who live in Chittagong Hill Tracts will not accept that they are Bengaless, they, however, will have no hesitation in accepting that they are Bangladeshis. Citing examples of Sweden and Norway, he argued that people in these countries have the same origin and culture, but have developed separate identities. The same is the case with the Bengalees in India and Bangladeshis.
Although during the honeymoon period, the AL govt. showed some signs of success in steering the new nation through a host of problems. the govt. soon started to prove its incapacity to handle effectively many socioeconomic and poll problems of great magnitude. The soaring price level of essential commodities, rampant-corruption at all echelons of govt. and administration, decline of production in the newly nationals industries and schism in the AL of down to the grassroots level put the chiliasm of omnipotent
Mujib to the rest. However, the most serious threat posed to the regime was the gradual deterioration of law and order and the insurgent activities of law and order and the insurgent activities of underground radical revolutionary parties which played havoc in the countryside.85 They vowed to’ overthrow the Mujib regime through guerilla warfare and resorted to the clandestine killing ‘of the Al. leaders and other known “enemies of’ the revolution”. To quell the “miscreants” and anti social elements,” on December 28, 1974 through a Presidential Ordinance the govt. proclaimed a state of emergency. On January 25, 1 975 the country experienced a drastic constitutional amendment that replaced west minister type of’ govt. by a presidential system and multi-party democracy by a single party authoritarianism.
Zia did not change that system but introduced a multi party system opposing all authoritarian measures of BAKSAL Thus it became one of time four fundamentals of’ the party. Because, to get a fixed tenure without the pleasure of the legislature, to create firmness, promptness, vigor and initiative in administration, this system is very useful and Zia liked to use that system and Zia was successful in doing this by suppressing the leftists, improving the condition of law & order situation. As a matter of fact, this system was the demand of that situation. This was the time, when the administration had to take prompt decisions and its implementation. The parliamentary system seemed to be ineffective to meet the challenging problem of the time. The parliamentary system has some preconditions to be successful. Zia removed all the obstacles to parliamentary democracy. In 1991, when all the opposition parties demanded to promulgate the parliamentary form of democracy, then the BNP showed honour to the opinion of the majority.
Socialism means economic and social justice:
Zia changed the concept of “socialism” into “economic and social justice” while article 42 of the Bangladesh constitution provided for acquisition and nationalization of property” with or without compensation,” the amendment provided for acquisition nationalization of property with compensation only.
People of this country were never socialist in nature. They always tried to establish for parliamentary democracy. Originally, the AL did not accept this ideology. But it had to adopt this for the pressure of’ the leftists in the party. Rut after adopting this, they could not implement it properly. Rather they confined their activities within nationalization of the industries. Their policy of nationalization was also failed. Not only that, the people of Bangladesh are very pious and solialism stands against religion and it also misguided the capitalist world. So, the capitalist world, specially the USA did not help Bangladesh. Considering all these measures, Zia changed this ideology and turned it into “economic and social justice.”
Absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah :
Zia amended the constitution deleting ‘‘secularism’’ as one of lime principles of slate ideology and in its place asserted “absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah.” It also became one of his party ideology. Bangladesh did not become an Islamic Republic but the amendment stressed that “the state shall endeavor to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity. This was under taken to please the Islamists.86 During the war, most of’ the Islamic world was in favour of Pakistan and after independence they did not recognize Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s adoption of” socialism and secularism also disappointed them. Then this country was considered under Indo-Moscow Axis. Not only that the capitalist block was also .not very happy. So, they also did not help as they could. Zia tried to shift from that block and came closer with Islamic as well as the capitalist block. But he was also successful in improving the relationship with India. One result of this was the five year interim agreement on the Ganges water dispute. Which had ‘virtually threatened Bangladesh’s survival in the years prior to the agreement that Zia reached. Indeed, he understood that the sovereignty of Bangladesh will be assured only if it cultivates diplomatic relationship and friendship with as many countries as possible.
On the other side, majority of the people of Bangladesh are religious minded. Though people of this country is in practice not bigoted, to many of them, however secularism ag a state principle has little appeal. On the contrary, they feel ‘secularism’ means absence of religion. Infect, secularism does not mean absence of religion. Religion is a private affair. It will not have any impact on state policies.
Party Constitution :
It’s constitution is the most sensual requirement of a political organization. It provides rules and directs the activities of the members, component organs and branches, and it lays down the structure of the party. The constitution of the BNP may be described under some broad categories.
The term membership here is used in the sense of a person belonging to a group having a doctrinal agreement with the ideals, aims, and purposes of the organization. A citizen in a modern state cannot live in isolation–he is a -member of some organizations: local, national or international. The membership of a political organization in particular signifies a certain commitment and involvement in the governance of a country. Some political parties are more doctrinaire than others and expect their members to rigidly subscribe to their ideology. The Communist Party throughout the world is one such example. The nature of membership of political parties, however, varies to their particular characteristics and context. Even within parties there can be several kinds of membership. In Bangladesh, for example. the members of the CPB or Jamaat-E-Islami is not the same as that of the AL, JSD, or BNP. Within these parties, there are regular inanities arid affiliated members. The BNP constitution provides that “any Bangladeshi national not engaged in the politics of violence or any other anti-social or anti-people activities, declaring allegiance to the constitution, accepting the manifesto and 19 Point Programme” and the party’s concept of “national unity, Bangladeshi nationalism, democracy and social justice” could be enrolled as a member after “signing the party declaration form and paying Tk. 0.50 as subscription.” The applicant gives his “name, address, age, education and profession” on the application form.3 The party organized a membership drive all over the country and formed local branches in 1980. They enrolled a very large number of primary members. Though the actual number was not available, it was claimed that the membership was larger than that of AL, JSD or any other party in Bangladesh. In a way, the massive mandate received in 1978 and in subsequent elections of 1979 and 1981, gives credibility to the claim.
Membership of the BNP is ‘open’4 as it is with the AL, JSD, ML and the Indian National Congress. A person has only to sign the application form and pay an annual subscription. It includes no other conditions and formalities so that entry to the BNP is unrestricted. Once acccpe hewevcr, the member receives a card which creates the feeling that he or he now belongs to an important organization.
In western countries too and all developing countries, political parties have both ‘stable’ and ‘unstable’ members, A stable member is one who renews his formal membership annually and is supposed to rcn~: firmly attached to the party for a long period, whether it is in power or ne: Unstable members are those who sign the party application form once and then forget to renew their membership. In Bangladesh the BNP, like AL, JSD, arid ML. has both kinds of members–stable and unstable, the latter outnumbering the former. We have mentioned earlier that at the lower level, many persons their own purpose and left it or became inactive after they their objectives. In the rural areas, owing to lack of any idolater or organizational commitment, many were also members of other simultaneously. Some even forgot to resign from their previous par1is. This practice of dual membership is widespread in Bangladesh and is one symptom of instability of national perspective. In short, we may say that the rarefies criteria of BNP membership as stated in its constitution was not followed in practice. The rules and regulations governing membership of the BNP that it is composed of individuals and front organizations such as trade unions, cooperative societies and organizations of youth, student, women and peasant. 11 is an open as well as an affiliated party and is akin, in this respect, to AL. JSD, and the Indian National Congress. The British Labour Party of 1900 is a good example of such group-affiliations. These parties may be called parties.5 Such mixed parties have become common in most countries.
According to its constitution the apex of the BNP made up of six parts: The National Council, National Standing Commixed. National Executive
Committee, Electoral College, Parliamentary Board the Parliamentary Party.6
The National Council
The National Council of the BNP consuls of the president, the vice-president and general secretaries of each the district BNP executive commixes; two women members from each district and city; and BNP National Executive Committee, Neacinal Standing Committee, members of the BNP Parliamentary Party and 10 cent members nominated by the Chairman. The total strength of the National Council was about 17,000 to 18,000 in 1982.~ The constitution of the BNP gave much importance to the National Council. It should discuss and approve the prograrnmes decided on by the party National Standing the power to amend the constitution, sanction the budget, and consider and accept the audited report of the BNP Secretary General. It was the most representative body.
The National Standing Committee
The BNP National Standing Committee has 14 members and all of them are nominated by the party Chairman. The Chairman is also the chief executive of the National Standing Committee. When the party was in power, this committee included the country’s Vice-President, the Prime Minister, and the party Secretary General amongst its members. The members of the BNP National Standing Committee, by virtue of their office, are members of the National Council. The BNP National Standing Committee, according to the constitution, is the highest decision making body of the party. It is empowered to formulate, and alter the policies and programmes of the party and to review all punishments awarded to members. The committee cannot, however, remove the Chairman. It has the power to alter or amend the provisions of the party constitution and manifesto. Its decisions in all such matters should be final. This dommittee ensures that the members follow and honour the constitution. The official publications’ of the party are also brought out by the National Standing Committee and is empowered to call for reports from the National Executive Committee on any matter. It also has the power to supervise and control the activities of the National Executive Committee and other committees appointed by the Chairman.8
The National Executive Committee
The National executive Committee consists of 120 members. The party Chairman nominates one member from each district. Ten per cent of the total membership to be women. Workers, peasants, freedom fighters, tribal and other backward sections of the country are also represented on the committee. The constitution also stipulates that one thud of the nominated by the Chairman are to be chosen from the National Council.9 The National Executive Committee of the EN? is entrusted with many powers and functions. According to the constitution, it controls and coordinates the functions and working of the various committees of the party and supervises the execution of-the party’s programmed. It resolves conflicts within committees and awards punishment to members of the party, if necessary. it is responsible supervising and controlling the activities of the affiliated bodies and has the task of implementing the programmes directed by the National Standing Committee.
The Electoral college
The Electoral College consists of the presidents and general secretaries of each union, thane, city, municipality and members of the district and city executive committees. Each unit nominates two women members to the party
Electoral College Its main function is to elect the party Chairman and to remove him from the post by a three-fourths majority.
This consists of members of the Standing Committee and other members nominated by the Chairman. The president, vice–presidents and general secretary of the district concerned are associated with the Parliamentary Board. It is empowered to select party candidates for election to the Parliament. If a member of the board happens to be a candidate for nomination he is not allowed to participate in the meetings called to select the candidates.
The Parliamentary Party
The BNP Parliamentary Party consists of the MPs belonging to the BNP. The party elects the Leader, Deputy Leaders, Chief Whip and other Whips in consultation with the Chairman of the party. The members of the BNP Parliamentary Party are ex-officio members of the National Council
The branches of the BNP are the basic elements of its structure. A branch is only a part of the whole. It have a separate organic existence. Branches are often organized throughout the country. They enroll members, widen the mass base arid are organized on a geographical basis to cover the whole country. The branches organize the members, impart political education, recruit workers and produce party leaders. Their powers and by the party organs. The BNP branches from the ward to the district levels are empowered to supervise and control all activities for the implementation of the party programmes in their respective areas. The BNP constitution, however, does not mention specifically the interval at which the coma it tees should meet, yet it is expected that members should meet at least once in three months. It lays down that the quorum for a meeting of the executive committee should be one-third of the total members.’3–
The branches of the BNP follow specific rules and organizational requirements. According to the party constitution the ward executive committee is the lowest branch of the party. It is a 21 member body which is to be elected by 150 primary members comprising 15 individuals from each village. The members of the ward executive committee form the B-NP union council. They elect the party union executive committee consistiag of 31 members. The BNP union executive committees in a thana constitute the thana council. Each thana council elects its executive committee consisting of 51 members. The executive committee has one president, two vice-presidents, one general secretary and one treasurer who are elected for a term of two years. The BNP district council is formed by the thana BNP executive committees. The district councilors elect a 71-member district BNP executive committee for a two year term. It has one president, three vice-presidents, one general secretary, one office secretary, one publicity secretary and one treasurer. In urban areas, the BNP city-municipality, town ward, town thana and town committees are elected by the councillors for a term of two years. The BNP constitution provides that 10 per cent of the total members in each organ should be women.’4
According to the constitution of the party the Chairman is to be elected by the party Electoral College for a term of two years. The Chairman is the chief executive of the party. He is to co-ordinate, supervise and control all activities of-the party. In fact, he dominates the National Council, the National Standing Committee, the National Executive Committee, the subject committee and other committees of the party because they are nominated by him.’5 The Chairman is empowered to dissolve any committee if he thinks it necessary. The party Chairman cannot be removed without a three-fourths majority vote of the Electoral College. The Secretary General of the BNP cannot convene meetings of the National Executive Committee and the party Electoral College without consulting the Chairman. Thus he or she occupies the supreme position in the party.
The BNP Affiliates
Like other political parties in Bangladesh, the BNP at its inception wanted to extend its influence to various groups by having affiliated bodies. This was a means of obtaining support from different groups participating in socioeconomic arid political movements such as students, youths, women, labours and the peasants. The affiliated Laos e~abdshed by the party will be dealt with here.
The Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal
After watching the activities and factional infighting of the pro-government student leaders and workers many of the BNP leaders were not eager to form a student wing of the party. Other leaders like Mashiur Rahman, Moudud Ahmed, Obaidur Rahman, and S.A.Bari A.T. suggested that a student front should be formed to balance other political parties. The logic behind their argument was that students were the advanced force in Bangladesh politics and that they could work with a spirit of self-sacrifice to strengthen the party. Meanwhile, in September 1978, during President Zia’s visit to Dhaka University, an untoward happening’6 involving students convinced him of the need to have a student wing of the party. On January 1, 1979, the BNP announced the formation of the Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal. It contained many groups and the breakaway factice of different wings of other political parties. The major component of the Chhatra Dal initially were the Jatiyatabadi Ganotantrik Chhatra Dal, the student front of JAGODAL; one faction of the JatiyaChhatra Dal affiliated to the former NAP-B and one faction of the Biplobi Chhatra Union affiliated to UPP. After its formation some of JSD student workers, a few of pro-Chinese radical groups and a large number of central students joined the Chhatra Dal. Branches were later organized in all universities and colleges, and within a short period, it become one of the largest student organizations in Bangladesh.
The Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal
The Bangladesh Jatiyaiabadi Jubo Dal, the youth wing of the BNP, was started by Zia shortly after the formation of the BNP. Since coming to power, he had always laid emphasis on the necessity for a strong youth organization to direct the activities of the youth towards nation-building tasks. The Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal consisted of the Jatiyatabadi Ganotanisik Jubo Dal, the youth wing of the JAGODAL, which was heavily patronized by Zia, a faction of Jatiya Jubo Dal affiliated to NAP-B, a small pro-Chinese youth group known as Jubo Okkya Kendra, a few of young BAKSAL members and a large number of former student workers of JSD. The Jubo Dal had organized its branches at the district, thana and union level. Very soon it became the largest youth organization having its close association with the official Youth Cooperative Complex and Village Defence Party.18
The Jatiyatabadi Shramik Dal
The labour wing of the BNP, the Jatiyatabadi Shramik Dal, consisted of the workers belonging to Jatiyatabadi Ganotantrik Shramik Dal, the labour front of JAGODAL and some breakaway from Jativa Shramik Federation, Jatiya Shraniik League and Jatiya Shramik Jute. The labour wing of the BNP organized branches in all industrial arid wu LCIS units like the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Workers Union, Bank Employees Union, Railway Shramik Union, Jute and Textile Mills Workers I ion, Rikshaw Shramik Union, Shopkeepers Association and the like. The Shramik Dal grew quite strong and broad-based. and become one of the largest labour organizations in Bangladesh)9
The Jatiyaiabadi Mahila Dal
The Jatiyatabadi Mahila Dal is the womens’ wing of the BNP. It organized branches mostly in the urban centres and involved many women social workers in the policy and programme of the government. Due to Zia’s patronage the Jatiyatabadi Mahila Dat became a strong wornness’ organization and was more active than women’s’ organizations affiliated to the other political parties in Bangladesh.2°
The Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal
The Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal is the peasant wing of the BNP. In Bangladesh the peasants constitute about 85 per cent of the total population. Unfortunately they are not well organized. Nevertheless they have massively exercised their right to franchise in elections. In a way, Zia’s rural based and people oriented politics needed rural branches of the BNP among the peasants. To this end the peasant front of the BNP was organized. On June 22, 197,9 Zia formally inaugurated the formation of the Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal at a huge peasant gathering at Dakkin Khan union near Dhaka. He appointed a national coordination cell which worked as the central committee of the Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal. The Krishak Dal was to be organized in each village. On July 5, 1979 the central committee meeting of the Krishak Dal presided over by Badruddoza Chowdhury, Secretary General of the BNP, decided to organize branches all over the country. The village committee of the Krishak Dal was comprised of one convener, two joint conveners, one treasurer and fifteen members. In each union these committees would establish an office in which they were to have an agricultural technical training centre and one production team. The Krishak Dat, however, organized branches in 1, 157 villages. 21
It may be noted that those who joined these affiliated organizations, did so not because of their love for a popular cause but for aggrandizement. There were, however, some sincere and genuine workers who worked hard to build up these organizations. Such people became effective communication links between the President and the people. In fact, the essential differences between the BNP and the Pakistan Convention Muslim League, both government parties, is that the BNP established a stone support base with the help of the affiliated bodies whereas the Convention Muslim League did not have affiliated bud es and could not develop much support.
Although the committees of these affiliated organizations, like that of the BNP, were supposed to be constituted through election, this democratic method remained confined only to the student and youth fronts. These bodies had their own constitutions and manifestos. They propagated the policies and programmes of President Zia and the BNP, but held regular meetings and maintained an atmosphere of free discussion. Often they acted as pressure groups for their supporters.
Strategy of recruitment (The Bangladesh Nationalist Party):
The scpoy revolt reinstated Major General Ziaur Rahman as the Chief of Staff of the Bangladesh Army. Justice A.S.M Sayem, who had been appointed earlier by Khaled Musharaf, continued both as President & Chief Marital Law Administrator. During the first few months, without taking formal leadership of the state, Zia ruled the country through
Martial low regulations, remaining in the background as the Deputy Chief Marital law Administrator, On April 1, 1977. Zia took over the presidency, forcing Sayem to resign on grounds of ill health, and retaining his position as Chief Martial low Administrator and Commander—in of the armed lorces. Alter his assumption the Presidency, Zia slowly and steadily built the support base for him as well as for his newly built party.
From the very beginning, Zia was trying to solve the problems faced by, the people of this country. There was a great confusion about the four fundamental principles of the constitution of 1972. Zia brought necessary changes in the constitution by amendments. So he amended the constitution by changing ‘Bangali’ as ‘Bangladeshi” which emphasized territorial nationality rather than ethnic identity, because, there were’ Bengali in the enamoring country also. He dripped the word ‘secularism’ which was meant by most of the religious people as ‘absence of religion’ asserting “absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah”.’ He also envisaged the consolidation,, preservation and strong fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic Solidarity. The articles and clauses underlining the commitment of the state ‘to establish ‘socialism’ were also deleted. As the people were already been apathetic about this. Rather the term was redefined as economic and socuial Justice. Article 42 of the constitution, which had empowered the state to acquire and nationalize property “with or without compensation.” was amended to read “with compensation only”.
Zia came to power when the people were suffering from grave economic crisis. So, he brought about a radical change in its economic policy. To help the vernacular businessmen, he encouraged private enterprise; emphasizing export oriented industry and promoting a high rate of production. The primary goal of the strategy was to maximize GNP growth rate ‘through all~ out encouragement of the private sector. Thus he created the support of the businessmen behind him. As the overall policy of economic development of the state under. Zia achieved a high rate of growth through a “pure growth” strategy.
If one looks at agricultural and industrial production, there was a significant increase after 1975. While rice production was 11.32 million tons in 1974-75, it rose to 13.55 million tons in 1979-80. More spectacularly, production of wheat, another basic food, rose from 1.6 million tons in 1974 -75 to 8.10 million tons in 1979-80. The index for industrial production which stood at 81 in 1972-73 (Base: 1969-70-100) reached the pre-independence level in 1976-77 and advanced to 108 in 1978-79. Jute production, which stood at 450,000 tons in 1974-75, rose to 522000 tons in 1979—80 amount production rose’ from 136,000 tons in 1974 75 to 3,43,000 tons in 1979-80. Steel ingots production reached 1,33,000 tons in 1979-80 from only 49,000 tons in 1974 -75.
The quick achievement of a higher rate of growth is considered essential for the survival and stability of the country as well as for gaining political legitimacy for the regime” The development strategy of Zia’s regime resulted in respectable economic growth. So, his regime got acceptance to the people.
He was the only President who traveled extensively from one part of the country to another part and worked a lot with the villagers. Thus he created for him as well as for the BNP a continuous support among the villagers. “This in turn helped to recruit support and broaden its base all over the country so that it represented all sections of the people. The leadership style of Zia helped to strengthen the base of the BNP. Zia often used to talk directly with rural people on order to get himself acquainted with their problems. Sometimes he joined them in manual labour such as the digging of canals. His frequent tours of the rural areas made the people feel that he was one of them and his govt. was their own. The rural masses a1~o felt for the first time that the man at the top, was really concerned about their development. The gap that usually exists between the masses and the govt. at the top may thus be said to have been narrowed by president Zia’s personal efforts. The rural masses, therefore, supported the BNP and its programmes as they identified themselves with its leader.
“One of the most powerful and effective political forces in Bangladesh are students. They may he called the vanguard of all political movements in the country. It has been proved in the history of Bangladesh that no political party could survive without students support After prolonged discussions within the party, it was decided to form a student wing called Jatiyatabadi Chatra Dal. They organized its branches in all Universities and Colleges.
The labour force in Bangladesh was organized and the BNP extend its support base in this sector through the Jatiyatabadi Shramik Dal. The Shramik Dal established its branches in all working class units.
Recognizing the importance of women in national development, Zia was committed to improve their social position. The reserved 30 seats for them in parliament as well as 10 percent of govt. jobs. This policy attracted many women to join the party. In addition, the govt. sponsored Bangladesh Mahila Sambaya Samity of which branches were established in all 470 thanas of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Mahila Sambaya Samity with about one lac members and the National Women’s Federation with about 25 affiliated bodies were also closely associated with the social, economic & political activities of the BNP. All of these organizations contributed to the mobilization of whom were involved in electioneering, worked actively to build a strong base for the BNP.
In order to restore the position of the bureaucracy, he first abolished presidential order No. 9 of 1972, which had provided for dismissal of officials without showing cause. Furthermore, those bureaucrats who had lost their jobs under this order after liberation were allowed to appeal their cases. The defense budget was immediately revised upwards, with the original allocation raised from Tk. 750 million to Tk. 1109.34 million. In subsequent years, the defense budget was increased further.
During the general elections held in 1978, 1979 and 1981 a majority of lawyers in the district and sub-divisional towns backed the BNP candidates. Among other professional groups large number of university, college & school teachers extended their support to the
This line was followed by journalists. During BAKSAL rule, there were only four daily news papers, while about 400, including daily’s weekly’s and other periodicals, were brought out during the BNP rule They helped to promote the image and popularity of president Zia and the BNP.93
The Hindu minority in Bangladesh generally cast its vote as a group it has also been repot that 1-lindus voted for the AL primarily on account of its secular ideology and its foreign policy stance of promoting friendly relations with India. This attitude partially changed during Zia. He attempted to attract large number of Hindu Leaders and groups to his party.
As a result, the Bangladesh Jatiya I lindu Parishad, spotisored by the RNP, came into existence in 1980. President Zia also patronized Bangladesh Hindu Jubo Kallyan Sangsad and Bangladesh Scheduled Caste Community worked for the victory of the BNP candidate Justice Abdus Sattar 94 According to one source, 25% of Hindus voted for the BNP candidate.
It may be summarized that the BNP’s support base was not confined to a single class or group. It attracted every class of people of the society.
With the assassination of president Zia in May 1981 and the army intervention in politics, the two parties began to broaden their support base. ion, there were held many elections. But none of them were considered and fair. So, the opposition political parties demanded a free and fair election under a neutral authority. During this time, the movement against Ershad was only the issue to win the people. But the AL suddenly changed the track by joining in the election with Erashad. They had the rational for going in the election to create the way of protesting from inside and outside the parliament. But the general people could not expect it; rather they considered it as farce against the desire of the people. Dr. Kamal Hossain, ex-member of the presidium of the AL central Committee addressed a letter to Sheikh Hasina detailing what he considered to be the reasons of losing their previous support base which they earned during the movement against the Ershad regime and by the incident occurred on the 15th August 1975.
While there was vote dacoit and media coup were done by the govt during the 1986 election, AL could not utilize this opportunity and resign against the regime but showed weakness and vacillation. This surprised the workers of the AL as well as most people in the country. According to them, effective movement then by Awami League, could have brought the down fall of the Ershad regime and bring credit to the party there by.
On 24th January 1988 in the Chittagong meeting of the AL, Ershad regime indiscriminately opened fire killing a number of people. This created a big sensation in the county and there were protests all over the country by all parties. A programme was announced to bring out a procession to show respect to the martyrs on that occasion from the central Shahid January 27th. On that day, people of all sections irrespective at the Shahid Minar to participate in the rally. People in general throughout the not come to the Shabid Minar. Begum Zia attended the rally, led the mammoth procession and won a remarkable political victory over Sheikh Hasina who suffered a great lose of esteem on that occasion raised the question of her sincerity regarding the movement against Erashad. Not only that there were so many occasions when Sheikh Fiasina refused to work united to bring down the fall of Ershad regime. This also created a bad impression about the AL, about their intention that they are more interested to serve their interest rather to serve the state. So, they did not want to share any credit with the BNP, rather they preferred to compromise with Ershad.
Due to lack of proper leadership, guidance and support to the proper groups of the students wing of the party vis-a-vis undue patronization of their rival wings, the student wing of the Awami League throughout the country became weak. The BNP student front captured most of the university and college student bodies by convincing victory against the student wing of the AL.
After the fall of Erashad, Awami League election propaganda attached its importance more to preach malice against Zia and less importance to its future programme of action for lacking the problems of the country. In their election meetings, AL equated Zia period with the period of Ershad which was not at all convincing to the general mass of the country. People were not ready to be convinced with those words, rather they were aware about the difference of the two peri6ds.
Sheikh Hasina campaigned for reintroduction of the 1972 constitution and the four basic principles, which included secularism. She labored hard to explain in many meetings that secularism does not mean absence of religion. Majority of the people of Bangladesh are religious minded. Though people of this country in practice not bigoted to many of them, however secularism as a state principle has little appeal. On the other hand secularism is sometimes meant as absence of religion. They were alarmed that if secularism was introduced, the word “Bismuillah” (In the name of God) incorporated by late President Ziaur Rahman in the constitution would be abolished. Most of the parties contesting in the election reinforced this alarm through their propaganda.
Till the election of 1991, AL could not come out of its stigma of being a pro-Indian party. But quite a large number of people tend to have this impression whether there is any basis or not for such impression. Many political observers commented that her speech over the television that evening which was full of aggression and malice, reduced her party’s vote at least by 10 percent. Roth total Ahmed and Razzaque commented that Sheikh 1-lasina’s pre-election T.V. address created an adverse reaction in the minds of voters. Sycd Altaf Hossain of NAP expressed that vanity was the cause of defeat of Awami League in the election. Saifuddin Ahmed Manik, General Secretary, Bangladesh communist party also echoed the same sentiment.
On the other hand, the BNP could rebuild their support base during the movement against Ershad through the leader of Khaleda Zia. They can be discussed a bellow :-
The BNP could attract larger younger group and the student force in its side than the AL. The student appreciated the uncompromising stand of Begüm Zia in her long years of struggle against the autocratic regime of Ershad, while AL’s participation in the 1986 election was not appreciated by the majority of the students and the people. Though Sheikh Hasina had been claiming that her party’s participation in that election was a strategy to continue the movement against the regime both inside the parliament and on the streets, many people were not convinced. She had finally to revert to the politics of the street, which Begum Zia was all the time continuing. Begum Zia’s stand in this regard proved to be more pragmatic.
Moreover, the new generation had not seen the days of Sheikh Mujib and his dynamic and charismatic politics and leadership. The young generation between the age of 2 1-25 years were too junior to understand and appreciate polities of the Mujib period. The junior group of 1973-95 is the real young group of today. They had seen President Ziaur Rahman and appreciated his integrity; simple living, hard work and mass contact tours and still remember those \vith appreciation. Moreover, they are more influenced by the present performance of the leaders.
People in this country go for hero worship, Begum Zia’s uncompromising attitude, her relentless struggle and her challenge to the autocratic regime of Ershad earned for her a deep respect and love of people. She won the halo of a hero. During her public meetings throughout her political career, specially during the election campaign, she refrained from ~ •expressing personal malice against the leaders of her rival parties. She explained forcefully the ills of the Ershad regime and gave positive programmes basing on the 19-point prograrilme of her late husband Ziaur Rahman. She addressed meeting after meetings tirelessly explaining the stand of her party and promising what she would do if elected to power. Many political observers commented that her speech over the television that evening brought her more than I 0 percent additional votes.
Thus in 1991, through the election of 1991, there created a clear support base for the AL and the BNP. But by 1996, this support base again changed because, the BNP was failed to satisfy the people belonging to its support base. This was the first time when voters turn out was about 73% which was 55.35% in 1991. So, through this, it can be easily thought that people are more conscious that before.
The causes of the change is alarming for the I3NP and is discussed bellow: –
According to the weekly “Robber” the as usual anti Indian stand did not attract the people as they are now more pragmatic than before.
Historically and organizationally, BNP was a weaker party compared to AL. BNP was founded only 12 years ago from a position of power. Unlike the AL, it has orrisroot organization. After 1991, they weren’t able to build any such organization as the opposition political parties were not co-operative in accomplishing this work. Thus there created a distance with the people.
Fifteen ministers of Khaleda Zia cabinet were defeated. They did not go to the people for vote. Because, they were over confident about their performance and they were thinking that people has rejected the AL and will never accompany them. But they never thought about the ‘Major election when the BNP was banished from Dhaka and Chittagong.
It is their bad luck that they could not satisfy any professional class. Specially, the media was ‘‘deadly against them. They published each and every news with exaggeration.
But it is true that there were many failures in their performance. As they came to power after mass upheaval. So, the people expected much from that govt. The same thing happened after independents when the govt. could not fulfill their expectation.
The opposition accused them that they are not sincere to demonstrate the joint declaration of the three alliances. They highlighted it to the middle class and the middle class were not happy with this. Because, this declaration was held to Promote and protect democracy. Democracy was not secured in this country ever and it was the first time when the political parties agreed to take some measures to ensure democracy in this country. Not only that the failure of the home minister to eradicate terrorism, existing fertilizer crisis, Yeasmin killing also disappointed the people.
The BNP could not get absolute majority in the parliament. They formed the govt. with the help of the Jamat-E-Islami. With this, they had to face many by-elections where tie candidate was stronger than the BNP candidate. So, to win in the election and for the containment of the govt. they adopted unfair means in the elections. The opposition political parties reacted deadly against this and demanded to hold election under a caretaker govt. But as it was a new concept and beyond the constitutional rules, so, the BNP was reluctant to accept it. But due to over publicity of the matter, this subject got publicity. As a result, the BNP had to lose a great support from them.
Leadership of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party:
Unlike Sheikh Mujib, Zia himself was the founder of the party. Not’ only that lie ~‘t the programmes, goals, and strategies to attain those goals and selected the leaders of the also.
Though he was not directly involved, but lastly, he got the opportunity to secure his potion in the power structure. Like the other military leaders, he declared that he would go to the barracks again after rehabilitating the politicians ‘in the power structure. But gradual he made himself ispensabie for the leadership of the country and to undertake nation building activities. Zia felt the need of forming a political party to implement his political ideas and the development programmes. So, under his leadership, BNP emerged as a political part in 1978 by the deserters of’ political parties. The 19 point were genre in nature and promised to provide the people’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, health facilities, mass literacy and so on. No drastic change was proposed in those programmes is very usual for the army persons to show economic development for gaining legitimacy one the less, the development strategy of Zia’s regime resulted in respectable economic growth. Growth rate in the agricultural and industrial sectors and gross national product
A process of institutionalization involves considered delegation of authority and decentralization of decision making. The top ranking leaders are not eager or even willing to make it. But though Zia attempted through Gram Sarkar, it created serious operational problems. In fact Zia went much further than Ayub in trying to woo the rural masses, though I request and extensive visits to remote villages and to administrative centres of local govt. In this respect he emulated the roles of charismatic leaders such as Fidel Castro, Julias Nyerere, Sukarna and very interestingly the late Bengali Charismatic, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.97 one the less, political strategy to decentralize the power to motivate people to participate in development programmes (especially food for work and voluntary canal dugong endeavors), the president by passed the local leadership by delegating authority to centrally appointed and controlled professional bureaucrats. In the process, the institution building process was undermined. But in East Bengal’s modern History “these were the first politico-administrative entities at the local level98 This institution, however was very short lived. After the fall of the BNP govt. the dissolution of Gram Sarkar was ordered in July 1982. Khaleada Zia retailed on November 23, 1991 by abolishing the Upazilla Parishads introduced by Ershad. On November 24, 1 99 I Khaleda ha ordered the formation of 17-member local govt. commission under the Chairmanship of information minister. The commission was asked to make recommendations about the Rnuie local govt. structure. A two tier system union and district council has been suggested. All members at both levels would be elected representatives of the peon. The commission expressed its optimism that down to top planning system would ensure peoples participation in the development programme.” But Khaleda Zia could not implement that proposed form of local govt.
General Zia was the Kingpin, the architect of the party and indeed the moving spirit behind it. He adopted various measures to consolidate his position. At the initial state, he encouraged criticism of his programmes from inside the party, but within limits. At the same time, he used a strong arm to silence irresponsible. He deli ruthlessly with disloyal and dissident elements in the party and never tolerated indiscipline either in the party, cabinet or the armed forces. Under this treatment, Brigadier Khaled Musharraf, Air Vice Marshall M.G. Tewab, and Lt. Colonel (Rid) Abu Taher and many other military men as well as Maudud Ahmcd, Nur Muhammad Khan and others in the it organization had to testify themselves After about to be fragmented. It was stopped by the coming of Begurn Khaleda Zia in the political areana.
After the death of Zia, Justice Abdus Satter became the Chairman of the party. It was a difficult situation and there were many groups around him to seize power from him. To satisfy them, he frequently changed his cabinet to appease every group. But, none the less, he was failed to satisfy all of them and had to surrender power to the army.
Though it was inevitable, but the party could not depend upon him after that and power was shifted to Khaleda Zia. Coming to power she declared that her party would not participate any election under Ershad. Under her leadership, the BNP boycotted the presidential as well as parliamentary elections. This uncompromising attitude coupled with the participation of Sheikh Hasina in different elections under Ershad, gave her a considerable respect throughout the country. She was also successful in exploiting the anti-Indian and pro-Islamic sentiment of the electorate. She could use the student wing of the BNP, which was then the most important driving force for the country. She mobilized them to a definite direction. As a result theology the party had a poor organizational network, hut it could mobilize the people through its student’s front.
Polities in Bangladesh is no different in this respect that in other new states. In Bangladesh the important differences are those between the rich and the poor, the literate and the illiterate, the urban and the rural. In addition, there are important religious differences. About 78% percent of Bangladeshis live in rural areas while 22% percent are in urban centers. Of the rural population 80% percent are employed in agriculture, the rest are petty shopkeepers, school teachers and low income professionals. About 36% percent of the people are educate the Float highly educated are generally westernized. 85.5% percent are Muslinisanu 13.5% percent are Hindus. Some believe in secularism and others are fundamentalists. In short, the composition of Bangladesh society may be said to be multi-dimensional, although population in terms of language, is overwhelmingly homogeneous, while ethnically, language. caste, tribe constitute the divisions in other South Asian countries, and class can he described as the two main sources in Bangladesh society politics.
On the other handle AL keeps no stone unturned to win the people. They availed of all the chances. Their Mayor used their word commissioners to mobilize the people in favour of them. They could use the caretaker govt. issue very successfully. They could make them people understand about its need in the contact vote rigging during the past regimes.
The manifesto of the AL had a clear direction for running the country well where the BNP showed a great failure. They’ also requested the people to forget and forgive their past failure. The Awami League was able to overcome its past legacy of misgovernance by adopting new election strategy. Sheikh Jasina successfully exploited the sentiment and sympathy of the common people by her emotional appeal to give her a chance to serve the country. She also effectively used religion to win over the heart of the people.
Indeed, the NBP could not satisfy the people. Due to arrogance and over confidence above mass popularity, the voters switched over to the AL. The voters also needed a change.
Political party is a very important political organization. It has the ability to make a country developed by maintaining political stability. Political party is known as the brokers of idea. Political party constitutes the life blood of democracy. Without political party, the existence of democracy can not be thought. In our country, Bangladesh Awami League and BNP have played the most vital role to make people politically conscious. Inspite of some faults, they are important in sustaining democracy. They shold be more democratic, patriotic. They should stand against terrorism, corruption to make beautiful Bangladesh.