Appropriate p o l i t i c a l leadership is a precondition for development of a country. A country may have a lot of resources, huge manpower but if the political commitment is not there, it may backtrack the country. A strong and determined political will is a must to carry the country forward. If we take up Bangladesh as an example and if we look into the development we will be able to justify the truthfulness of the above contentions.
Let us take the three and half years’ rule of Bangabandhu immediately after the independence i.e. 1972 to 1975, the period when the architect of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ruled the country. It was a period when the country got devastated due to war of liberation. We all know what a destructive policy the occupation army adopted during the war of liberation and especially when they were certain that they were going to be defeated very soon. Their policy was to burn down the country, killing the intellectual, the experts so that they could not contribute to the process of building up the country even after the independence. On 10th January Bangabandhu came back from Pakistan and took the responsibility of running the country.
The task was a horrible one. It was because of the presence of the leader of the revolution that the people got enthusiasm to build up the country in no time as desired by Bangabandhu. Sheikh Mujib as a ruler to reconstruct the war ravage country was really successful. Framing of the 1972 constitution, holding of a parliamentary election in 1973, formation of the national parliament and introduction of a parliamentary form of government and to run that government at a time when thousands of illegal arms were at the hands of criminals and antistate elements was not an easy task.
Nearly one and half crore refugees came back from India as destitute who had no home and shelter just to be accommodated in the tents, providing them duly necessity of life required for mere survival. No money in the bank. No foreign currency for import. No food grains in go downs or crops in the field. The first year was the year when one and half crore refugees plus two crore displaced persons within the country had to be rehabilitated. That was the situation just awesome that had to be solved by Bangabandhu. He did it quickly, nicely, and to the satisfaction of the sufferers. Despite all the odds he ruled the country almost in the right way. The people were determined to build the economy of the country.
It was possible because of the presence of Bangabandhu who was in fact the real wealth of Bangladesh and for whom the entire world had sympathy. Bangabandhu was then the capital of Bangladesh. Except for a few countries that opposed our war of liberation, the rest of the globe was really sympathizer to a leader like Sheikh Mujib who did everything possible for his people for long two and half decades. So the call for help to rebuild Bangladesh was duly responded by the world outside. The relief goods donated by the donor countries were enough for the distressed people of Bangladesh. In fact, despite all obstacles Bangabandhu really felt comfortable at the beginning of 1975.
So the three and half year’s rule by Bangabandhu was really spent for reconstruction of the war ravaged country. Then the period from 1975 to 1996 i.e. more than two decades, the two military rulers ruled the country capturing the power by force and compelling the people to accept them, their parties and their governance. The country was ruled by two generals, two parties and their administration for 21 years but with no positive headway for the country and the people. Problems like food deficiency, power scarcity, poor education and health system, price hike, poor management of natural calamities, were there. A single example could not be cited that could be termed as national progress.
The claim for reintroduction of multi-party democracy was shattered as the voices of the dictators were the law of the land then. There were fake election and the elected representatives were not the true real representative of the people. There was rubber stamp parliament and the participation of the people in state affairs was absent. There were nearly 40-50 lakh tons of food shortage every year, Monga in North Bengal ever year and what not then. The period ruled by Begum Zia from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006 i.e., ten years were the same. None could cite a single example of a remarkable achievement.
Sheikh Hasina the daughter of the founding father started her governance in 1996 to 2001 and then again in 2008 to 2019 i.e., eleven years. What exactly was the impact of her governance during the period? The picture is a glorious one. A radical change took place in various fields of economy. The GDP growth is going to be over 8 % this year. Per capita income has increased to 1909 US dollar. The latest survey conducted by HSBC forecasted that Bangladesh’s position would be 26th in the global economy by 2030 from the present 42nd position.
You will find Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina very often talking on the TV screen but you would not find a single speech that does not deal with development. You will find her talking on subject like health, education, power, sanitation, agriculture and finance, empowerment of women, art and culture, sports and in all national affairs. You will be astonished to see, how could a lady being a student of literature could speak so properly on subject like science and technology. Digitalization is now in advanced stage in Bangladesh.
It is because of Sheikh Hasina and her glorious son Sajeeb Wazed Joy who has expertise in the subject. It was because of her mother that Joy reached such an illustrious position. Similarly it is because of his mother that Saima Wazed Putul could adopt autism as a profession to serve the disabled and physically challenged people.
Bangladesh is really lucky enough to get a prime minister like Sheikh Hasina who has already dedicated her life for welfare of her people. She always speaks that she feels proud of being the daughter of the founding father and all that she has to do is to fulfil his dream. Bangabandhu is really the source of inspiration for her.
A political leader with absolute commitment to the people could make any kind of sacrifice needed for the country; Sheikh Mujib is the brilliant example. Similarly Sheikh Hasina like her father had to face adverse situations many times during her political career. She faced them with courage and determination with little care for her life. As a political leader she has no agenda of her own except for the agenda of her people. Like her father she is always ready to sacrifice her life if needed for the country.
Bangladesh has been rapidly developing in all fields of economy. This is due to the fact that it got two leaders of outstanding calibre - one immediately after independence and other when the country was in the grip of the counter-revolution. The country is now at the height of its glory. The key factor is Sheikh Hasina. The enemies of independence are out to undo what the country has achieved by now.
It is again the determination of the leader that along with the people can save the country from nefarious act of anti-liberation forces.
Dr S A Malek, former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, is general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and a columnist.