Let me begin with the words by Irving Berlin: "The song is ended, but the melody lingers on..." Yes, it is absolutely true. We know very well that the very name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of a glorious history. As we mourn his demise in this month and as we remember our history on Bangladesh's achievement in 1971, Independence Day, and as we celebrate the Victory Day that will allow us the chance to reunite with our children, we fight for a large battle that will recognize the most venerable veteran like the Sheikh Mujib and his great contributions to our country. Noted journalist and columnist Syed Badrul Ahsan has aptly described the capabilities of Sheikh Mujib as a great leader and statesman in his From Rebel to Founding Father: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The month long observance of Bangabandhu's assassination in this August is also an opportunity to remember those who rendered honorable service in defending the country in times of war or peace to gratefully acknowledge their contributions in preserving our sovereignty and defending our national security. It is like: "My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins." Mujib promised to usher in a new politics, improve moral standards, and provide leadership by example.
He strongly opposed the Pakistani corrupt regime. Our country has a colorful political past and present. He was a firebrand orator. Once he said: "We will applaud if we make the right decision or we will weep in the end if we make a mistake." His term was battered by what at times seemed a never ending string of socio-political crises because of emergence of some evil forces that were on the run because of their grave misdeeds during our glorious Liberation War in 1971. But his administration had doggedly and consciously focused on pro-poor policies.
If we remember Bangabandhu, we should also remember what Angelo Patri said: "In one sense there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you. He/she lives on in your life and in the lives of all others that knew him/her." The next generation should also know that leadership is critical in all struggles: it is critical to harnessing free elements to produce results; to uniting and conjugating human forces to achieve desired ends; to achieving successful human interactions. Strong leadership must work for the general interest as opposed to personal enrichment. Leadership should create durable democratic institutions that could operate independent of charismatic leadership. Sheikh Mujib's politics was in line with these spirits. We can call him 'the incarnation of the heroic figure of the fighter'.
One of his true votaries and a 1971 war veteran Syed Shahidul Haque Mama once said: "He did politics with integrity, commitment, dedication and honesty. After him, there is no one who will take a principled stand in politics. I used to say to him that he should write his memoirs. He would reply that he was writing. He knew a lot. Sad, I don't see the kind of integrity that he had in any of the current lot of politicians except some few ones."
Another 1971 war veteran and Editor of weekly Postcard Md Mujibur Rahman has said: "His death has brought a chapter of progressive politics to a close. He ended his journey from where he began, that is, he never moved away from his path. He always preferred society's happiness to personal happiness. He did not succeed to shape society the way he wanted because of his brutal murder, so his dreams remained unfulfilled. We shall have to work more hard to fulfill his dreams for betterment of our people."
A great orator, Bangabandhu felt that liberation of the nation was more important than his great personal sacrifice throughout his life. He inspired people of Bangladesh to rise up and challenge injustices and exploitations imposed on us by the Pakistani rulers. He continued to fight for human rights, democracy and creation of Bangladesh. His 7 March speech served as a model for other political revolutionary movements leading to a large scale armed struggle against the Pakistani occupation forces. He is known as a great politician, and a world leader. He was noted for his courage in directing his people, his vision in protecting his people from exploitation by the Pakistani regime and his commitment to the cause of betterment of his people.
He succeeded in bringing all people of Bangladesh to a single platform to fight against the brutal Pakistani Military junta and achieve our beloved country in 1971. "One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voices of the people themselves" and these words of Eleanor Roosevelt are truly compatible with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's long struggle for Bangladesh's independence. His political voice was continued to have heard throughout his life and his legacy as an advocate for the downtrodden has continued.
There is that great proverb - 'that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter'. He was like a lion. He wrote history through his great deeds. He made history by his unswerving services to his nation. He inspired so many by his example of caring for the poor and needy. He was canonized as 'The Friend of Bengal' or Bangabandhu by our people. He began his leadership role early in life. He was integral to the rise and power of Bangladesh. He was the leader of Bangladesh during its height and greatness in the world. He developed a cult following and remains an icon of the politically revolutionary-minded people worldwide. He is an iconic symbol of revolutionary movements worldwide. Even after his passing, the Sheikh has become a household name, a true testament to his perseverance and dedication to the cause of people's welfare
The world is full of aspiring political leaders but sadly, very few live up to the leadership ideals. In fact, many political leaders seem to severely lack some of the most important leadership qualities, such as, integrity and accountability. It is no coincidence that for many people, the word politician has such negative connotations! However, history - and present day - shows us that there are still a few who come close to the leadership ideals and who are good examples of an effective political leader and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the most effective political leader.
Bangabandhu had great love for Bangladesh's people and genuine concerns for the poor and the downtrodden. He was unmatched for his political acumen and intrepid boldness, and was a leader of towering stature, whom one may adore, and can never afford to ignore. Mujib was the only great political Leader of pre and post independence polity, and also the last in the line of all great political leaders of Bangladesh. No one else after him qualifies for this tag until this day and time. Let us pay rich tribute to him and his party stalwarts in this cruelest month of August.
The writer is a political commentator and an author
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