Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Leading for the People

What does it mean for an individual to live a life entrenched in politics? Is it being at the forefront of significant events, shaping them and thereby altering the course of nations’ destinies? Is it spending time immersed in the intrigues of court politics, maneuvering to defeat opponents while advancing one’s own interests, often out of expediency with the ultimate goal of reaching the top? Or is it observing history unfold, contributing to maintaining the natural order while mostly being a passive observer, lacking sway over the dealt cards?

Many of history’s notable figures, especially those who held leadership positions, may align with one or more of these outcomes. However, when examining the life of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a figure deeply entrenched in politics, none of these descriptions fully capture his essence. Rather, one simple epitaph emerges: he led for his people.

This attribute shines through from the beginning of his political journey. In 1938, at the young age of 18, during a visit by Prime Minister AK Fazlul Huq and Labour Minister HS Suhrawardy to Gopalganj, Bangabandhu established a relationship with Suhrawardy that lasted until the latter’s death in 1963. Their bond was significant for the people of Bengal, whom they both championed. While Bangabandhu eventually surpassed his mentor in historical significance as the founding father of a nation-state, Suhrawardy’s influence on him should not be underestimated.

In Bangabandhu’s memoirs, he credits Suhrawardy for imparting “the essentials of political life.” Yet, can empathy for unrelated individuals or indignation at injustice be taught? These are qualities innate to an individual, influencing Bangabandhu’s actions throughout his life.

His writings, though covering only until 1955, reveal his humanity and connection with his fellow citizens, even as their leader. This aspect characterized his actions, earning him the title “Bangabandhu,” the Friend of Bengal, upon his release from jail in 1969.

Being hailed as a friend of the people is a profound recognition for a leader, signifying a transcendent place in history. Bangabandhu’s bond with his people, evident from his youth to his leadership during the birth of Bangladesh, demonstrates his unwavering commitment.

In his memoirs, Bangabandhu’s honesty shines through, acknowledging his humble beginnings and challenging societal norms. He never deceived his people, maintaining honesty in his dialogue with them, as seen in speeches and interviews.

Bangabandhu’s identification with his people was innate, evident in his interactions and attention to detail concerning their lives. Leadership, as exemplified by him, stems from considering oneself as part of the people represented, internalizing the attachment necessary for effective leadership.

In essence, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s life in politics was characterized by unwavering dedication to, and alignment with, the interests of his people.

Enayetullah Khan , editor-in-chief of UNB

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