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Awami League: From Rose Garden to Ganabhaban

  • Published at 12:21 am December 20th, 2019
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chairs  a cabinet meeting
File photo of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina PID

Seven decades of leading the Bangali nation

The Bangladesh Awami League is an integral and inseparable part of the history of the Bangali nation. It is the torchbearer of the glorious history of all democratic movements in this land.

Bangladesh achieved independence under the leadership of the Awami League, one of the oldest and biggest political parties in the country.

From the very beginning, the Awami League has been spearheading socio-political trends in the country through different struggles and movements in the past seven decades.

On June 23, 1949, at a meeting of supporters of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy at Rose Garden in KM Das Lane, Old Dhaka, a new political party named Awami Muslim League was formed by progressive leaders and workers who had broken away from the Muslim League.

It was the first opposition party in the then East Bengal, later renamed East Pakistan, BSS reports. 

Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani became president, Shamsul Haq of Tangail general secretary, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joint secretary. In a process of secularization, the word “Muslim” was later dropped from the name of the party.

The Awami League, in alliance with other political parties, formed the National Democratic Front in 1962. Its leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was arrested by the Ayub regime before being released. After Suhrawardy’s death in Beirut in December 1963, Bangabandhu revived the Awami League in early 1964.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took the helm of the Awami League at the 1966 council, where the party formally adopted his Six Point programme of autonomy that was later to lead Bangladesh to independence. Later, he became the unparalleled leader of the Bangali nation when he led the Awami League to a decisive victory at the general elections of December 1970. He was to be the architect of an independent Bangladesh as the Father of the Nation.

The Awami League led the Mass Upsurge against Pakistan in 1969, prompting the Liberation War in 1971 to free the people from centuries-old colonial rule.

After the assassination of Bangabandhu and most of his family members on August 15, 1975 and the killing of four national leaders in Dhaka Central Jail on November 3 the same year, the Awami League suffered from an absence of leadership.

Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina took the helm of the Awami League after returning to the country from exile in 1981. She has been leading the party for nearly four decades and has formed the government four times, including the current one, BSS reports. 

Following liberation in 1971, the Awami League was in power for around three and a half years before the assassination of Bangabandhu, five years from 1996 to 2001 under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, and since the 2009 general elections to date.

After it lost the 2001 general elections, the Awami League waged a successful movement against the then BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government.

In 2007, the military-backed caretaker government declared a state of emergency. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and top leaders of the party were arrested. The party was once again in crisis.

But, overcoming all hurdles and intrigues, the Awami League and the grand alliance under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina achieved a landslide victory in the 9th parliamentary elections on December 29, 2008.

The alliance, led by the Awami League, won the 10th parliamentary elections in 2014 and, five years later, the 11th parliamentary elections in 2019 as well. Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina returned as prime minister. She has been in office as prime minister of Bangladesh four times, consecutively for the last three terms.

In line with its electoral pledges, the Awami League government has been working relentlessly to build a poverty- and hunger-free, advanced and ICT-based prosperous Bangladesh and so elevate the country to a middle-income country status by 2021, and then a developed country status by 2041.