The return of Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on May 17, 1981 six years after her stay in foreign country following the assassination of Bangabandhu was a glorious issue for the people of Bangladesh. She and her sister Sheikh Rehana could escape the carnage of 15 August, 1975 because they had been staying with noted nuclear scientist Dr Wazed Miah in Germany. God probably saved them to complete the unfinished task of Bangabandhu who was brutally killed by his own people. What a pity, the leader who led the 23 years of long arduous movement and liberated the country could not stay in power for 3 and half years. Sheikh Hasina left Germany and took shelter in India following the clearance of Ms Indira Gandhi who had been eagerly waiting for her arrival. She along with Dr Wazed Miah and two children Joy and Putul stayed there for six years. After that she return home on 17 May 1981 and there was a political context behind her return.
The most important issue relating to the return of Sheikh Hasina was the holding of Special Council Session of Awami League in hotel Eden in 1981 in which Sheikh Hasina was elected to the presidency of the Awami League in place of her father. Nearly 50,000 followers of Bangabandhu gathered to elect the daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Hasina as the president of the Awami League. It was a spontaneous gathering. There was not a single village in Bangladesh where from a single man did not arrive to witness the election of Bangabandhu’s daughter as president of Awami League.
Since 15 August 1975 tragedy, Awami League, the political party that earned national independence had been in a morbid condition. Autocrat General Zia who came to power through conspiracy and killing targeted Awami League as the arch enemy and planned to annihilate its leaders to make it sure that there is resentment to his autocratic regime. Thousands of Awami League activists had been killed and another few thousands youths had been driven out of the country. The next step was to allow the Awami League leaders to be co-sharer of power with General Zia. General Zia compelled Awami League to participate in a kind of so called election only to give the military government a constitutional legality. Some of the Awami League leaders who could not stand against the military regime surrendered to it for a compromise. So the time when Sheikh Hasina was going to be the president of Awami League, the party was really in a bad shape. Many apprehended that the military regime of Zia would not allow Awami League to rule the country for a long time.
We know how many times the opponents tried to
kill Hasina. With all the threats on her way,
she has been governing the
country once from 1996-2001
and again from 2009 to till today
The millions of supporters were then made to think, there is none except the daughter of Sheikh Mujib who could save the party and the country. The entire house at the special council session held in hotel Eden was then shouted slogan in one voice in favour of electing Sheikh Hasina as president of Awami League defying the desire of some central leaders who termed it to be a measure to establish family rule. The process of mobilizing opinion in favour of Sheikh Hasina continued for at least a year when some leaders who did not like the ideas tried to launch counter campaign. And in the council session there was a risk of disturbance created by opponents of Sheikh Hasina although their numbers were poor. But the support in favour of Sheikh Hasina was so vast and spontaneous that the opponents did not dare to oppose the resolution and supported it. Hence the resolution was passed unanimously.
Today many leaders who opposed Sheikh Hasina are either dead or have become blind supporters of Sheikh Hasina to cover up their weakness. Even after Sheikh Hasina’s joining the party after a long time those leaders who challenged Hasina’s leadership found political parties like Gonoforum.
Kamal Hossain who with the blessing of Sheikh Hasina became presidential candidate of Awami League but got defeated and later he decided to form a separate political party Gonoforum and since then he has been in the top position of that party.
Sheikh Hasina had never been safe in her own house. Even after putting the party twice, some senior leaders in the guise of reform formed a group challenging her leadership. But ultimately they failed. So Sheikh Hasina had to face one by the opposition i.e., anti-liberation elements and other by her own party betrayers. Despite all the odds Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated outstanding performance to deal with her party stalwarts and the oppositions. She has been still fighting in both the front. The opposition has lost ground to stand on firm footing. Sheikh Hasina is safe now except the conspirators who are still with the party to conspire. If Mustaque could kill Bangabandhu, why there could not be one who has been preparing to kill Sheikh Hasina as well.
We know how many times the opponents tried to kill Hasina. With all threats on her way, she has been governing the country once from 1996-2001 and again from 2009 to till today. The return of Bangabandhu from Pakistan imprisonment on 10th January 1972 did really consolidate independence and sovereignty and the return of Sheikh Hasina on 17 May 1981 from India did save Bangladesh from the clutches of enemies of independence. The 1975 episode and the 21 years rule by dictators and their stooges destroyed all that the nation earned out of liberation war. It is Sheikh Hasina who by entering into the politics of Bangladesh, ceaselessly fought against the military dictators, the pseudo democratic and reactionary forces, the fundamentalist and the terrorists to take Bangladesh to its present position. We are at the height of glory because of Sheikh Hasina.
It is because of Sheikh Hasina that the country has been brought back all the values that we earned as result of war of liberation. It is because of her that we are not only self-sufficient in food but even capable to export. The per capita income is now over $2000, GDP was 8.13 before start of Covid-19 pandemic. The electricity generation capacity increased to over 20,000 MW. Bangladesh is a country that distributed 35 crore books to primary schools students on the first day of January each year. The rate of literacy increased to 72 per cent. The improvement in the health sector is tremendous. The life expectancy is now 72 years. Child and maternal mortality have reduced significantly. Our leader Sheikh Hasina has been conferred 39 awards by the international community.
(This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board of Bangladesh Post)
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist