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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Women Leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - Part-VII

By Rabindranath Trivedi - for Asian Tribune from Dhaka

Part-VII:

Women Leadership in Bangladesh : In election of 1991, ‘BNP obtained the single majority with 140 seats, and was unable to form government except with support of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh of Prof. Ghulam Azam,which had been banned under 1972 Constitution but revived by her husband General Ziaur Rahman who made sacrilegious interpolitions in the Constitution.’

Ratan Sen, a member of the Central Committee of the Commmunist Party of Bangladesh and president of Khulna District Committee , Communist Party of Bangladesh, who spent twenty-two years in jail and was murdered in broad day light near the court house of Khulna on 31 July ’92.

Rashed Khan Menon, MP shot and critically wounded by two bullets which pierced his rib on the evening of 17 August’92 as he came out of the party office in the city. Menon had criticised the government with vehemence during the discussion of the no confidence motion against the government which did not agree to form an all party Parliamentary committee to deal with the deteriorating law and order and the insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which Begum Khaleda defended in the parliament on 12 May’92 because of the mandate she had obtained in the election. Instead she had a draconian ordinance issued by the president to by pass the Parliament, which came into force on 5 November’92.

The Anti-Terrorist Act as it became known provided enhanced punishment and denied bail to an accused during police investigation. Fortunately the Act was allowed to lapse on the mid-night of 5 November’94 after two years in operation.

Chairperson of the 7th SAARC , Begum Khaleda Zia resigned in the face of mounting violent movement on 30 March 1996 and a caretaker government under the Chief Adviser headed by, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Justice Habibur Rahman, was sworn-in as the Chief Executive to conduct the free and fair elections. Begum Zia's government’s interference in several bye-elections, immobilizing the parliament and politicizing the administration acted prompted the opposition parties to go for movement against the government. The opposition Awami League started boycotting Parliament sessions and after a two and a half years’ movement the opposition Awami League resigned on 28 December 1995. The contribution of successive military regimes in destroying the faith of the people in party governments” ability to administer free and fair elections led to the demand for conducting general elections under neutral Caretaker government.

The Awami League, along with Jatiya Party and Jamaat-e-Islami started a simultaneous but separate movement and compelled the government to resign on 30 March 1996. Meanwhile BNP staged fraudulent elections on 15 February 1996, which were boycotted by the opposition. The voter turnout was as poor as 21%. Begum Zia was forced to amend the constitution providing for a non-party caretaker government to conduct parliamentary elections. It may be recalled that addressing a students rally in Dhaka on January1,1991 Begum Khaleda Zia declared ”we are very confident that the country would be run by the nationalist forces in the future in the name of Allah”.

In 1991 Sheikh Hasina was elected Leader of the Opposition in the Fifth Jatiya Sansad. Sheikh Hasina, meanwhile known as daughter of democracy, gave a befitting reply of the fraudulent election in February 1996 and forced Begum Zia,widow of Gen.Ziaur Rahman,to handover power to a caretaker government headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Sheikh Hasina, meanwhile known as daughter of democracy, gave a befitting reply of the fraudulent election in February 1996 and forced Begum Zia,widow of Gen.Ziaur Rahman,to handover power to a caretaker government headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After the fair election victory in June 1996, Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 23 June of the year.

Sheikh Hasina(1947-) has been aptly described as the worthy daughter of a noble father ,noble servant of a worthy people’, defining her goal as the provider of ‘Ballot and Bread’ for the people of Bangladesh she waged a relentless struggle for over two decades against the overt and covert military rule turned autocracy that perpetrated its hegemony and clung of power stifling all democratic norms and practices. Finally she emerged victorious and assumed the leadership of the people’s Republic of Bangladesh at the crest of overwhelming popular mandate.

Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana were the only survivors members of her family as they were in Germany on that fearful night of August 15,1975. Following the national tragedy in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina’s life went through a great change ,she went to UK from where she started her political career afresh. She started her movement against autocratic rule in early eighties. From UK, she went to India. She understood the importance of establishing a close rapport with Indian leaders in New Delhi. She stayed six years in exile, and at the critical juncture of military rule in Bangladesh She was unanimously elected ,in absentia, President of the Awami League in February 1981,thus she finally returned Bangladesh on May 17,1981

.Thousand and thousands people of all walks of life attended the Dhaka air port, Sheikh Hasina returned home amidst tumultuous welcome and wore the mantle of her illustrious father. Possessed of indomitable courage and fierce determination she waged a protracted struggle against autocracy. In the process she courted arrest several times and even risked her life.

Her grief turned into a consolidated force of movement against the military regime. But no amount of brow-heating or terror tactics could deter her from the course she charted for re-establishing the people’s right. In 1982 she was the first to protest against General Ershad regime. Sheikh Hasina formed 15-party alliance to struggle the military despotic rule. In 1986 she became leader of the Opposition in the third Jatiya Sansad. During this nine-year, she had to suffer detention time and again. She survived several attempts on her life

Finally Sheikh Hasina spearheaded the historic mass movement, which toppled the General H M Ershad regime in December 1990 and compelled to transfer of power to a neutral caretaker government headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1991 she was elected Leader of the Opposition in the Fifth Jatiya Sansad .

Sheikh Hasina, meanwhile known as daughter of democracy, gave a befitting reply of the fraudulent election in February 1996 and forced Begum Zia,widow of Gen.Ziaur Rahman ,to handover power to a caretaker government headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After the fair election victory in June 1996, Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 23 June of the year.

Sheikh Hasina was born on 28 September 1947 at Tungipara under Gopalgonj district (Bangladesh) She is the eldest of three sons and two daughters of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Sheikh Fazilatunnessa Mujib. She graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1973; she was elected vice president of the students’ union of the Government Intermediate Girls’ College. She was a member of the Dhaka University Students League and secretary of the Rokeya Hall unit of the Students League .During the war of liberation in 1971

Bangabandhu was in Pakistani Jail, two of her brothers were in war field ,she, along with her mother and other members of family ,was interned by the occupation Pakistan army . She married Dr. M A Wajed Miah, a nuclear scientist, in 1968 and they blessed with a son ‘Joy’ and a daughter ‘Putul’. A devout Muslim,she performed holy Hajj four times.

After the expiry of five-year term of premiership, Sheikh Hasina’s government resigned on 15 July, 2001 and elections were held on 1 October 2001 under the caretaker government headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh Justice Latifur Rahman. On October 9, 1996 Mr.Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed was elected unopposed as the President of Bangladesh by the Parliament on July 23,1996 and sworn in as the President of Bangladesh on October 9,1996.

Mr.Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed handed over the office of the president to the elected president Professor A Q M Badrudozza Chowdhury on November 14,2001.

Rabindranth Trivedi is a retired Additional Secretary and former Press secretary to the President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

- To Be Continued –

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read:

Part 1 -Women leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Part-II : Women leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Part-III: Women leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Part-IV: Women Leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Part - V: Women Leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Part - VI: Women Leadership in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

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