Hopes and aspirations of the people and the betrayal of the leaders

People always sacrificed but got nothing in return but the leaders always betrayed and flourished.

A newborn country, Bangladesh had lot of hopes and aspirations. It was time for the leader to materialize the dream that he had presented to the people. The liberation war had broken all the class barriers in the society. A great opportunity was created to forge a national unity leaving aside the age-old class differentiations. The people expected that the leaders would rise above the group and party interest and would unite the people to harness their patriotism and productivities to rebuild the war torn country to fulfill the dream of a ‘Golden Bangal’. 10 crores of Bangladeshis would find their rightful place in the committee of nations with dignity and honour. Historical heritage, distinct self identity, the vision of the able leadership, right direction, patriotism, sacrifices, hard work above and all united efforts of the nation could achieve this much cherished goal step by step with the passage of time. Creation of a progressive, happy and prosperous Bangladesh and reaching its fruits at the doorstep of every citizen would have matched with the spirit of the liberation war. The independence would have then become meaningful. But the people had already become apprehensive about the sincerity of the leadership.

Our political leaders had always done much sweet-talking than actual deeds. Promises had been even greater. People have heard since ages and got used to such empty promises. Who ever had gone to power had always failed the people. They had oppressed the people paying no heed to their demands. The isolation of the leaders from the people and their selfish interest were the main reasons for such betrayals. Our leaders mostly are alien in their own societies. That is why people are apathetic toward them. once in power they do everything to meet their own vested interest and later justify their deeds with power and position. The people remain enslaved in the merry go round of betrayal and deception. The politicians always placed their self-interest above the interest of the nation. Even at times the country and the people became sacrificial goats to meet their greed and lust.

If the political history is evaluated then we can see that all the governments of the past had always side tracked the major issues and created confusion in the political atmosphere. In 1947 the leaders took the slogan of Islam. 1952 language movement was termed as the struggle against religious fanaticism. After taking over Gen. Ayub Khan raised the smoke screen of Basic Democracy. People had however got nothing from these mechanizations. In the process people’s miseries have only multiplied manifold. The socio economic crisis further deepened. The politically bankrupt leadership only pushed the nation back ward. That is why we can hear people say we were better off during Pakistan time but better was the British period. Nine months long bloody war failed to bring any qualitative change in the character of the Awami leadership. That is why soon after stepping on the soil of the independent country just like their predecessors the Awami League came out with the ambiguous slogan of Mujibbad. After 4 and half years when Mujibbad was proven to be an empty slogan Sheikh Mujibur Rahman like any other power hungry dictator promulgated 4th amendment and took all powers is his own hand by forming one party autocratic regime of BKSAL. This unprecidented constitutional coup de’ tat was called his ‘Second Revolution’. As he usurped absolute power apparently things for a while looked calm on the surface but beneath that uneasy calm political and social conditions were fast deteriorating. The main reason for such deterioration was the presumption of the rulers that by dishing out favors and benefits rule can be perpetuated forever. They depended on this belief because of their lake of understanding of the complexities of the newly independent country. It’s problems and solutions were beyond their perception. They lacked any ideology, conviction, experience and vision. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman like other third world dictators considered his own ideas and thoughts to be the ultimate. He never cared to take any advice or suggestion from any one, other than his ‘kitchen cabinet’ comprised of his family members. His all knowing attitudes were to a great extend responsible for his administrative failure. He also did not have a clear idea about the difference between party and the state. This became clear even in 1956-57 when he deferred with the then Chief Minister Mr. Ataur Rahman Khan. Mr. Khan wanted to keep the administration totally neutral. He knew that if the administration were brought under the party control then it would be difficult to run the administration efficiently. But Sheikh Mujib refuted his contention and said, "The administration has to accept party domination. Not only that administration will just help and assist the party to execute its policies, but the administration will also be helping in increasing its influence among the people". Mr. Ataur Rahman Khan had to surrender to Sheikh Mujib as he was then considered very powerful in the party. Thus during this time Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the Minister of Commerce and Industries indulged in rampant corruption, nepotism and misuse of power. He used his power in giving out permits, licenses, bank loans, and sanction to establish industries to people who were loyal to him and his cronies. After taking over the reign of Bangladesh he started ruling the country in the same old style. Some were given money, some undue promotions, appointments as the directors of the abandoned business concerns and industries, license permits, dealerships etc. to buy support and personal loyalty. This is how only within two and half years a total anarchy was created in the economic sector. Many of his confidants were also involved in smuggling in collaboration with the Marwasis. Thus under the patronization of Awami rule a new class of ‘novo’ rich grew like mashroom. They accumulated from national resources but did not reinvest into the economic cycle. Most of their wealth was spent in non-productive sectors or transferred abroad. With these lots of people Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to establish ‘GOLDEN BENGAL’ in the country. It was really very hard to understand what was he up to? Was it his ignorance or cunning mechanization? In this context some comments of the Prime Minister himself are worth considering. Because of my personal relation with the Sheikh’s family I used to visit his residence at Road No. 32 Dhanmandi quite often. Some time he used to call me to gather information particularly about the armed forces. Some time I used to go even at my own. In one of such meeting while discussing about the overall situation I said to him that he was loosing popularity by providing undue favors and benefits to his party people. In reply he said,

"Didn’t my people suffer during Pak regime? Didn’t they suffer losses? Didn’t they loose their wealth and properties? If today they get some benefits, what is wrong in it? I can’t remain indifferent towards them. If any one is unhappy about this I can’t help".

I was not really prepared for such an answer. I just thought to myself. Now he was suppose to be the leader of the nation, head of the state. Was it appropriate that he should place his party’s interest over the national interest? Did the nation expect that from him? I was depressed and came back with an uneasy feeling that day.

It was not only his party people who got involved in rampant corruption. His immediate family members were also involved. Gazi Golam Mustfa who was a close confidant of Sheik’s family became famous as ‘Kamble Chor’ in the country for his open misappropriation of relief goods being the Chairman of the Red Cross. The donors and the international relief agencies also came to know about his malpractices. International press and media became very vocal against this notorious thief. His only brother Sheikh Naser not only garbed the abandoned properties and businesses in Khulna his hometown, but also became one of the ringleaders of the smuggling activities. All his nephews Sheikh Moni, Abul Hasnat, Sheikh Shahidul Islam not only became politically very powerful, they also enmassed enormous wealth under the patronization of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His sons, particularly Sheikh Kamal also got involved in enmassing fortunes and other unethical activities such as Bank robberies. Regarding the state of corruption during Mujib’s regime, the reputed journalist Lawrence Lift Shulz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review on 30th Aug 1974. "Corruption and malpractices are nothing new. But Dhaka people thinks the way the corruption and malpractices and plunder of national wealth that had taken place during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s regime is unprecedented". It was virtually impossible for the government to gain any economic or political achievements with such loots and plunders in a newly independent war ravaged country. The looters did not plough back their illgotten wealth in the national economy, they spent that fortune for their luxuries and comforts. But the government had to pay heavily as its image got turnished in the eyes of the people and the world.

The government became isolated from the people. Against the promise to turn Bangladesh into ‘Golden Bengal’ the ruling elites turned Bangladesh into a bottom less basket. The common people viewed this as a national betrayal. They became dejected with the Awami League leadership. Awami League lost the people’s support, which was so vital for any government to govern. Gradually they also lost the support of many powerful quarters within the government itself. Their support within the students, youths and armed forces eroded substantially.

An agricultural country Bangladesh is heavily dependent on the nature. It was a gigantic task to feed 10 crores people in a devastated country. The donors and the international communities came forward generously to help Bangladesh in its reconstruction. Till 30th December 1973 Bangladesh received grants and aid credit amounting 1373 million Dollars. Beside through UNROB huge amount of relief assistance was also provided. In spite of this all the hopes and aspirations of the newly independent nation got lost into the nightmare of AWAMI-BKSAL miss rule.