Sheikh Hasina’s return to politics and the aftermath
Dr. S A Malek/ The Bangla Herald
Sheikh Hasina has been ruling the country for nearly 12 years without any interruption. She was elected on 29 December 2008 general election and got to power. For 3 consecutive terms she has been elected since then. At a time when the country was under authoritative rule for 21 years from 1975 to 1996. Following a long arduous movement against the autocratic regime of General Zia, Gen Ershad and Begum Khaleda Zia, Sheikh Hasina got elected to the premiership in 1996 general election. She ruled for five years from 1996 to 2001.
In that period, she brought back the country to the path of democracy from the authoritarian rules of General Zia and General Ershad and the pseudo democratic government of Begum Zia. General Zia following the brutal killing of Bangabandhu got to power following an interim period mostly spent for conspiring to prolong his rule.
It is now believed that Zia was the key person behind the killing of the Father of the Nation. Khandaker Mushtaque, a naughty, greedy man was used for the purpose. During the liberation war General Zia demonstrated his lust for power by declaring himself as the head of the government and army ignoring the directives of the Awami League leaders but being put to pressure from the Awami League leaders, he had to declare independence of Bangladesh on behalf of great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He was promoted and made second in command of army, but he was not satisfied with that position. He orchestrated an evil design and hatched conspiracy with the help of some Awami League leaders and foreign mentors to overthrow the democratic government of Bangabandhu. General Zia finally made his plot successful and captured power.
He ruled the country for six years. It was the time when all that earned through the war of liberation was changed radically to bring the country almost in line with the previous Pakistani regime. It was when the constitution was changed, Joy Bangla rejected, the nationality altered, communalism encouraged, secularism rejected, democracy deformed.
Even there was a move to change the national anthem. The next ruler was General Ershad when Zia got killed by his army colleagues. He ruled almost nine years with the same principle followed by his predecessor. Both generals claimed themselves as promoters of democracy who advanced the country forward. But there were no voting rights of the people and only a group of people amassed wealth at their blessings.
It was amid such political calamity that Sheikh Hasina was elected as the president of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981. Since then she has been relentlessly endeavoring to bring about a qualitative change in the politics of independent Bangladesh. The first three and half years following independence was ruled by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu upholding the spirit of the war of liberation.It was after the counter revolution in 1975 that Bangladesh was virtually made Pakistan restoring all the values practiced by Pakistan before the war of liberation. Sheikh Hasina immediately after coming to power tried to bring the country back to the right path and revive the spirit of the war of liberation. Sheikh Hasina restored Bangla and Bengali nationalism and all the values earned through the war of liberation.
Since democracy has been restored in independent Bangladesh, the first five years from 1996 to 2001 was exceptional in view of the reality of misgovernance and corruption of the four-party alliance government of begum Khaleda Zia. After the fall of the four-party alliance government Sheikh Hasina has been ruling the country for the three consecutive terms with some milestone development taking place in the country. Bangladesh is now a model for development. The days are not far off when we would reach a developed country.
Bangladesh achieved financial capability to implement large projects. Implementing Padma Bridge project from the government’s own fund is a glaring example of that. After loan cancellation by the World Bank Bangladesh took decision to carry forward the project by its own resources. It is because of Sheikh Hasina that we are self-sufficient in food but even are capable to export. Before the start of Covid-19 pandemic the per capita income was $1909, GDP 8.28.
The electricity generation capacity has increased to over 20,000 MW. Bangladesh is a country that distributes 35 crore books to primary schools students on the first day of January each year. The rate of literacy increased to above 74%. The life expectancy is now 72 years. Child and maternal mortality have reduced significantly. The foreign exchange reserve stands at 33 billion US dollars. Our leader Sheikh Hasina has been conferred 39 awards by the international community.
What one should generally feel what would have been the condition of Bangladesh if the Father of the Nation could not return to the country in 1972. Similarly one could guess what would have been the condition of Bangladesh if Sheikh Hasina did not return in 1981 and save Bangladesh from the hands of enemies of independence and military dictators who paved the way for their coming to power and ruling Bangladesh just reverse to what was achieved through the war of liberation. In fact, she has given re-birth to Bangladesh.
The credit that Sheikh Hasina deserves is that she has been ruling the country responsibly despite the fact that her government inherited some problems from the previous governments of General Zia, General Ershad and Begum Khaleda Zia who ruled the country with the help of anti-liberation elements and terrorists. It was a stupendously different task to bring the country to a democratic norm. It is because of Sheikh Hasina that the country has got back almost all the values that we lost during the post counter revolutionary regime. She has revived all these very successfully. Especially the control of terrorism was a great problem.
Bangladesh is now ruled by the representatives elected by the people. Rule of law now exists in Bangladesh. The pro-people government of Sheikh Hasina has been doing everything possible for the welfare of its people. She has proved that she is a strongly determined leader absolutely committed to the cause of her people like her great father who did little care for his life. The only aim of her life is to fulfill the commitment of her father i.e., to liberate the downtrodden people of the country from all sorts of suppression and repression.