Mujib continues to influence history
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding president of Bangladesh, substantially influenced the shaping of Bangladesh’s history; so did his brutal murder. Mujib led the concluding phase of the country’s political struggle for independence, which culminated in the armed war of national liberation, resulting in the emergence of Bangladesh as a nation state in 1971. He was absent from the independence war, imprisoned in Pakistan, but the people fought the war in his name. His brutal murder, along with most of the members of his family, this day 37 years ago, by a group of disgruntled army officers, retired and serving, influenced the history, again. In his political life, he put in all-out efforts to unite people, first on the basis of a religious identity to wrestle out Pakistan and then on the basis of the Bangla language and culture to create Bangladesh. His death divided the people right down the middle into the camps of supporters and detractors and the division continues to stand in the way of developing a national consensus on any issue of serious public importance. The detractors, who assumed office over his body, including his close associates in the Awami League, took all possible steps, legal and extra-legal, to try the perpetrators of his extra-judicial murder until Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina was voted to power in 1996. The trial was eventually over, with most of the accused in the murder case being punished, but the distortion of the political process caused by the murderous event in 1975 is yet to be corrected. There is still no sign of making conscious political efforts from any political quarters, not even from the party that Mujib had left behind, to consolidate the nation on the basis of a set of comprehensive political and economic programmes to ensure democratic transformation of Bangladesh’s society and state.
In the long process of acrimonious politics, the country’s mainstream political parties have now been degraded to depoliticised platforms of self-seeking organised groups of people, a reality Mujib, a highly politicised mind, would not have appreciated. No informed person would deny that the performance failure of Mujib’s administration, coupled with its autocratic attitude and action, induced a sense of anger and frustration across society, a reality that the disgruntled army officers used as a pretext for their murderous act and secured, for the time being, a kind of political legitimacy in society for their misadventure. But, at the same time, the informed citizens also cannot deny the fact Mujib had never indulged himself in any financial corruption. He had rather often been loud about the alleged financial corruption of his colleagues in the party, a legacy that the Awami League leadership of the day seldom upholds. While Mujib used to publicly castigate his colleagues for corrupt practices, his political successors are now seen publicly defending allegedly corrupt ministers. Besides, a section of the so-called followers of Mujib as routinely been belittling the great politician by way of extorting money under the banners of innumerable organisations floated in his name. The Awami League high command should take effective measure to stop this practice for the sake of saving the great man from being murdered for the second time. Finally, the Awami League can pay genuine tribute to Mujib by taking political steps to consolidate the nation, instead of doing things that divide it further, for this was the dream that Mujib had cherished most part of his political life.
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