As a child, his relatives used to call him Khoka. Nana named him Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He got involved in politics during his student life. To senior leaders, he is ‘Mujibur’ or ‘Mujibur Mia’. He was officially named ‘Bangabandhu’ on 23 February 1969 at the largest public meeting of the commemoration period at the Dhaka Racecourse. He was declared the ‘Father of the Nation’ at a public meeting of the BCL in Paltan on March 3, 1971. In his absence in April 1971, the first government of independent Bangladesh was formed with him as the head of state. He and his family were killed in a brutal coup d’etat on 15 August 1975. In just 55 years of his colorful life, he was the catalyst and witness of many events. He is one of the rare people who rose to the top of popularity before he came to power. There is a lot of discussion, criticism, debate, sophistry, curiosity and confusion about him. He is in the public discussion, will be. The question is, how will history remember him?
It is not uncommon for one state to break up and form another. This has happened twice in the region since World War II, just 24 years apart. One is Pakistan, the other is Bangladesh. Two proverbial people — Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are closely associated with the birth of two states. One is ‘Qaede Azam’ and the other is ‘Bangabandhu’. Jinnah says he, his secretary and a typewriter — these three combine to create Pakistan. Jinnah was not a public leader, he was a party leader. He may think so. But this does not apply to Sheikh Mujib. Because, Mujib was a public leader from head to toe. His strong sense of smell in public psychology gave him prominence. So in this fertile land of the leader, he grew up in size and type, surpassing all others.
Sheikh Mujib was the eyesore of two camps throughout his political life. One camp contained religious political parties, the other camp belonged to the Communists. Most of the leaders of both classes were feudal or elite. There was a kind of jealousy and resentment among them — how could he be such a great leader? It is true that there was a scattering of ‘scholars’ in the opposition camp. But the peasants of this country do not understand them. They thought Mujib was their man. The people of the village have observed a naafil fast for Sheikh Mujib during the bloody storm that swept over the country during the year 1971. Due to the fact that the intellectual practice of this country is still in the hands of scholars, the interpretation of public psychology has not come up in that way.
There is another side to this. Sheikh Mujib is the ‘logo’ of a political party or group that has been in power for many years. Many civil servants have joined the circle of power or the intense desire and greed to walk on the verandah. They are writing hymns. It is difficult, risky and time consuming to replace Mujib with the light of history through Mosahebi on the one hand and Blasphemy on the other.
Napoleon Bonaparte (179–1821) was King of France for 10 years (1804–1614). In June 1812, he invaded Russia with four and a half million troops. When he returned to France after suffering a severe winter in December of that year, he had only 9,000 troops left. Countless people were killed on both sides. Four and a half decades later, in 185, Leo Tolstoy began writing War and Peace in installments. It was first published in book form in 189. An epic account of Napoleon’s expedition and the film was made many years later. As time goes on, people can create narratives of history on the big canvas by detaching themselves from the complexity and emotions of recent events. Now is the time to dissect the liberation war of Bangladesh and its characters. In this case we are still lagging behind; But the work is urgent.
Giorgi Valentinovich Plekhanov (1855-1917) was one of the pioneers of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (later called the Communist Party). Lenin was accompanied by Iskra, the mouthpiece of the party. Later there was a disagreement with Lenin and he left the country. In 1896 he wrote a book, The Role of the Individual in History. According to him, man became prominent in the course of history because of his personal qualities. All these qualities come together in him, which makes him great in playing a role in changing the society. In Plekhanov’s words, such people are ‘men of destiny’. They come up with all sorts of thoughts that are hidden in the human mind. They stir it, provoke it, sharpen it.
After 1947, East Bengal (today’s Bangladesh) was a colony of Pakistan, people gradually realized. In the politics of this country, the method of raising clause-based demands is very old. Many have done politics with 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 points and are still doing it. As a result, the main focus of the claim is lost in the crowd of countless claims. Sheikh Mujib pursued only one demand — regional autonomy. The six points are his impeccable articulation. It was basically a confederation formula. Confederation is made up of more than one sovereign state. Within six points, the ruling class of Pakistan smelled of defeat. Mujib after 196 is a different character.
Mujib after 1971 is completely different. At one time he was a ‘politician’. This time it is ‘Statesman’. What he used to say on the field, now he has to do a lot of work. To understand this contrast is to sit down with a large canvas. One thing he understood very well was that Bangladesh was born through the global Cold War. Delhi-Moscow Axis on one side; Islamabad on the other hand, Peking-Washington Axis. Mujib desperately wanted to be detached. At the first opportunity he went to Lahore, in February 1974. He wanted to bridge the gap with the old enemy Pakistan, to distance itself from the ‘Muslim world’. It was not liked by many, even within his team. Pakistan did not reciprocate the hand of friendship he extended to Pakistan and the concessions it made. He regretted this.
Announcing a tripartite meeting between the Bangladesh-India-Pakistan foreign ministers in Delhi on April 9, 1974, called for the cancellation of trials of Pakistani war criminals in the interest of building lasting peace and harmony in the subcontinent. After signing the agreement, Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain returned to Dhaka and met Sheikh Mujib. Mujib was depressed. He told Kamal Hossain, “Bengalis have shown generosity. We have given maximum concessions to create a new trend in this region. But I think, for the first time in my life, I could not keep my promise to the people. I said that war criminals will be tried on the soil of Bangladesh. I couldn’t keep my word. I hope this decision will bring something good for our people ‘(Kamal Hossain, Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice).
An overall picture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s politics and politics cannot be painted in one day. He must be seen in the light of time. He needs to understand the time. He cannot be judged by drawing a conclusion and then proceeding with the traditional method of arranging arguments. The task is difficult, but possible.