Sheikh Hasina becomes the symbol of trust of the people
Sheikh Hasina has emerged as a living legend and an iconic statesman, the symbol of trust of 17 crore people of Bangladesh, leading them to the path of prosperity despite conspiracies at home and abroad.
She has been leading the country with her government for the fourth term now. Sheikh Hasina returned home on May 17 in 1981 after the brutal and tragic assassination of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members in August of 1975.
She has been leading the present ruling Awami League for about 40 years since being rewarded the leadership of the party through a council in her absence in the month of February of 1981. Her leadership for her party and for the nation as well is receiving accolades from both nationally and internationally. Turning the party and government people-friendly, she has been able to make positive changes in the nation through her strong personality and pledge to the welfare of the people.
The internationally renowned Time Magazine in one of its issues published in the month of August in 2011 mentioned Sheikh Hasina as the seventh among the 12 topmost women leaders in the planet.
Earlier in 2006, she achieved the Mother Teresa Lifetime Award for her humanity. In June 2016 issue, Forbes Magazine ranked Sheikh Hasina the 36th among the most powerful people in the world. And this year, when the world is tired of fighting the pandemic coronavirus, Forbes has highlighted the indomitable leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The April 22 issue of the magazine published a report praising Sheikh Hasina’s leadership in tackling the coronavirus.
Sheikh Hasina has had to go through many difficult paths to lead the party for four decades. After the assassination of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were not allowed to return to the country.
Matia Chowdhury, a praesidium member of the Awami League, said Sheikh Hasina has brought the Awami League to its present position by overcoming many ups and downs. She had to suffer imprisonment and face the risks of life and even death many times. The risks to her life are still on.
“When Sheikh Hasina returned home and took over the leadership of Awami League, she had to experience the split of the party. She had to face attacks on her own life several times. These experiences have made her tireless,” said Matia Chowdhury.
Regarding the takeover of the leadership of Bangladesh Awami League, a prominent writer and researcher Mahiuddin Ahmed said, “After Sheikh Hasina took over the party leadership, its leaders, workers and supporters have been inspired. But, at the beginning, the condition of the root level of the party was leaderless.”
“But, through her charismatic leadership, she has been able to regain the lost power of the party as it was during the period of Bangabandhu,” he said.
In 1983, Sheikh Hasina launched a movement against the then military ruler Ershad’s martial law by forming an alliance with 15 pro-democracy progressive parties. As a result, she had to go under house arrest in February and November of 1984. She had to suffer house arrest until the month of March in 1985.
Despite a split in the party led by the party’s former general secretary, late Abdur Razzaq, Awami League took part in the National Parliamentary Election in 1986 and achieved huge public support. The leadership of Sheikh Hasina was praised by the mass people. But, the then ruler Ershad had announced his own party, Jatiya Party, the winner by tailoring the results and abusing power. It is widely known that boxes filled with the votes in support of the ‘Boat’ symbol were found almost everywhere in the ponds and rivers.
After that, a mass movement against dictator Ershad started under the courageous leadership of Sheikh Hasina, and at last, Ershad was toppled from power in 1990. Although the Awami League did not come to power in the parliamentary elections held in 1991, the Awami League became a well-organised organisation under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. Late Abdur Razzaq had returned to the Awami League by abolishing Bakshal, but Dr. Kamal Hossain left the party and formed his own party, Gonoforum.
In 1994, Sheikh Hasina further launched anti-government moves, and under her leadership, all the opposition parties left parliament and also resigned from the parliament. In 1995, the Awami League and all the political parties in its alliance launched a movement led by Sheikh Hasina for elections under a non-partisan caretaker government.
As a result, the then BNP government was forced to pass that bill in Parliament. The parliament was dissolved within three months and re-election was held. Led by Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League won a majority in the 7th parliamentary elections held on 12 June. On June 23 in 1996, Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as the tenth Prime Minister of the country. That was the beginning of the Awami League after the transition period. At present, the Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina is in power for the fourth time.
In 2001, the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, handed over power in a democratic manner. But, when the BNP came to power in the subsequent elections, the torture started on the Awami League leaders and workers. At that time, the party president Sheikh Hasina took the role of a vigilant guard to protect the leaders and workers. Not only were the leaders and activists of the party killed and repressed, in 2004 Sheikh Hasina herself narrowly escaped death in a grenade attack. On 21 August, grenades were hurled at her at Bangabandhu Avenue, and shots were also fired to kill her.
She sustained serious injuries in the incident. Despite this, the 14 party alliance was formed under the courageous leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The Awami League jumped into intense agitation on the streets.
After that, the Awami League faced a more difficult situation. The army-backed caretaker government arrested Sheikh Hasina. She spent about a year in prison. And on the issue of ‘reform’, almost all the front line leaders of the Awami League challenged the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. At that time Awami League leaders and activists from all over the country came and stood by the side of party president Sheikh Hasina. She was released in an intense mass movement. But, the caretaker government tried to keep Sheikh Hasina in exile. In that situation, Sheikh Hasina returned to the country firmly ignoring all fears.
The ninth general election was held on 29 December 2008. The Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina won 230 seats. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time.
After taking charge of the party as Awami League president in 1981, Sheikh Hasina broke the old tradition and brought dedicated young and grassroots activists to lead the party. Relatively young leader late Syed Ashraful Islam, and most recently Obaidul Quader have been chosen as the general secretaries.
Along with the elders, many young people have come to the central leadership of the Awami League. At this time, women leadership has been included in the leadership of the Awami League significantly. Just as she has liberated the Awami League from various sections and sub-sections, she has also brought dynamic leadership in allied and fraternal organisations.
By Kailash Sarkar
Bangladesh Post, 21 Jul 2020 link