Bangladesh Awami League

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The Bangladesh Awami League (বাংলাদেশ আওয়ামী লীগ Bāŋlādeś Āowāmī Līg) or the Bangladesh People's League is the main opposition party in Bangladesh and the political catalyst for Bengali discontent and rebellion in 1971. In the 2001 general election it got 40% of the vote and 62 of 300 seats, making it the second-largest party behind the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.


Pre-Independence History

The Awami League was founded on June 23 1949 as the "All Pakistan Awami Muslim League" by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy [1] ( The word "Muslim" was dropped in 1955. There was some initial confusion when the party was created, because two parties of the same name were created in Pakistan one in the East Wing, one in the West Wing. One was created by Maulana Abdul Hameed Khan. One of its three initial assistant general sectraties (secretaries?) was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The other was created in the Northwest Frontier Province in West Pakistan by Peer Manki Shareef. In February 1950, both were merged, creating the "All Pakistan Awami Muslim League" with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy as its leader. In 1954 along with its allies the Awami League won the national election; Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy became the fifth Prime Minister of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became a cabinet minister. On 26 July 1957 Maulana Abdul Hameed Khan defected, creating the 'National Awami Party'. As the years went by, the Awami League became associated with the often opressed Bangla-speaking majority in East Pakistan. In the elections of 1970 the Awami League won 160 of 162 East Pakistan seats in the National Assembly but none of West Pakistan's 138 seats. [2] ([3] ( 160 being a healthy majority in the 313-seat Assembly, the Awami League was in a position to make a government without any coalition partner. This led directly to the events of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Post Independence

The party is now headed by Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Awami League has been in government for two terms, only eight years and a half, in the 33 years of Bangladesh's independence. It came to power after independence in 1972 under Mujib. However, the party was disabled by internal corruption and failed to repair the nation's wounds from the Independence war. As a result the famine of 1974 was inevitable. Half a million Bangladeshis died, and support for Mujib declined dramatically.

In January 1975, Mujib introduced BAKSAL, a Mujib loyalist paramilitary, to reinforce his dictatorship. BAKSAL replaced the multi-party parliamentary democracy, banned independent newspapers, and demolished civil rights. Thousands of opposition political leaders were killed and abducted by the BAKSAL and most of the abductees never returned.

These negative developments led to a widespread dissatisfaction among the people and even inside the Army. In 15 August 1975 members of the armed forces along with CIA operatives in Dhaka killed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and all his family members who lived with him. Within two months' time four of its top leaders, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman were killed inside the Dhaka Central Jail on November 3 1975.

See Also

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