Awami League completes 70 years of journey
Ever since its formation in 1949, the party has remained the most credible vanguard of secular politics in Bangladesh. The party, despite all its inadequacies and shortcomings, has contributed to making Bangladesh a relatively liberal Muslim majority State with reasonably acceptable democratic credentials.
For the most part of independent history of Bangladesh the Awami League has faced violent challenges from the so-called Islamic nationalist and pro-Pak forces. These forces are broadly represented by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami. These groups have always found religion as a convenient tool and hence they advocate a strong Islamic nationalist identity for the country and paint India in a negative light to generate a sense of psychological insecurity among the people.
Awami League commands the widest support base in the country, even though in the major power structures of the State like the armed forces, media and business, its penetration has so far remained limited. Legacy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman confers a unique symbolic identity to the party which is credited with the very creation of Bangladesh and laying of foundation for Bengali nationalism.
When the Awami League President Sheikh Hasina took over the Prime Ministership of Bangladesh for the second time in 2009, she pledged to root out terrorism from Bangladesh, and try the 1971 war criminals who had colluded with the Pakistani occupying army and committed crimes against humanity.
Sheikh Hasina has honoured her pledge, but the forces of fundamentalism and terrorism had taken roots so deep, that to get any tangible result will take more time as Hasina and her government are highly constrained. In 2014 the Awami League won the election once more and it continued its development strides towards achieving a poverty and hunger-free Bangladesh by 2021 and becoming ‘Switzerland of the East’ of Hasina’s imagination by 2041.
The Awami League came to power for the third time in succession with a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections held in December 2018. The party won 234 of the 300 parliamentary seats in this election. During this election, Awami League focused on good governance and development related issues and also promised to curb terrorism and violence. This election has been described by the international community as the fairest election in the history of Bangladesh.
While the immediate object of the Awami League seems to be consolidating political gains for the party, Sheikh Hasina has all along been conscious of the need to provide good and transparent governance. Hasina is well aware that corruption and failure to address aspirations of the masses could force her party in to the same plight as that of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.
Forty eight years ago the nation had the dream of freedom. The Awami League was the party to lead the nation to freedom. Now the nation had another dream – seeing Bangladesh as a developed country. It is once again Awami League that is leading the nation towards this goal. It is the party’s vision for better economy that the national GDP rose to 7.65%, per capita income soared to $ 4,992 (PPP) estimated as per IMF data and poverty dropped by its half to 22%. From July 2018 to May 2019 the Bangladeshi expatriates sent back $ 16.42 billion by remittance. The financial sector of Bangladesh is the second largest in the subcontinent.
Awami League’s promise was ‘Digital Bangladesh’. The government led by the party is tirelessly working to achieve this goal and ensure every citizen’s access to Information Technology. Forty eight years in to the liberation, the Awami Leage-led government set up the International Crimes Tribunal to hold trial of the war criminals of 1971. Six of the convicted war criminals have already been hanged following a due process of law. Rest of them are in the process of being brought to justice.
The only political party in the world that fought for a nation’s language, freedom and flag is Awami League. The party was the symbol of hope in 1971 when it led the nation to freedom. In its long years of journey the party had been at the forefront of all struggles, including the Language Movement of 1952, that eventually led to the liberation war and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. At present, quite a few decades in to the liberation, the Awami League is still the strongest advocate of democracy, secularism and humanity in the country.