Bangabandhu’s ‘Hashu’ turns into a global leader today
The birthday of Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of the greatest Bengali of all time, the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is an event of global celebration today. She hails from a family which has gone through heavy sacrifice while carrying on with a strong political ideology. The political ideology never offset the principles of peace though they were targeted repeatedly even from the Pakistani era. Rather to ensure people's rights, this family had faced armed enemies with the support of unarmed mass people. Bangabandhu was the architecture of our independence while his daughter 'Hashu', the current Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, is dedicatedly working to achieve economic freedom of all Bangladeshi citizens.
Sheikh Hasina was born on 28 September, 1947 at Tungipara of today's Gopalganj district. While her father was often in prison due to his uncompromising fight for the people's rights, she pursued her education in Dhaka. She often visited her father in the prison with her mother and got politically motivated from her father. She got elected as VP in the 'Chhatra Sangsad' election at Eden College. Later she was elected General Sectary of Dhaka University hall. While Bangabandhu was directly leading the country towards independence, his wife Bangamata Sheik Fazilatunnesa Mujib was supporting her husband's political cause and Sheikh Hasina was the witness of her mother's silent but valiant role during those days. Slowly, the whole family, which was pretty ordinary, turned into the greatest political family of the country.
On 27 July, 1975, I, as a young student of Victoria College, was lucky to visit Bangabandhu at his Dhanmondi 32 residence along with former governor of Cumilla Late Khorshed Alam and the then Member of Parliament Late Principal AbulKalam Mazumder. While Bangabandhu was providing us directions, Sheikh Hasina was roaming around in very simple attire with her 3.5 years old son Sajeeb Wazed Joy. Bangabandhu told us that, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana were leaving the country for West Germany of 31 July, 1975. He was very sad about it. But if they did not leave Bangladesh then, we might not have anyone from the Bangabandhu's family today.
Sheikh Hasina faced heavy challenges after 15 August, 1975 as everyone was afraid to shelter her. The then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi provided her shelter. As she and her sister Sheikh Rehana was very depressed, Shuvra Mukherjee, wife of former Indian President Pronob Mukherjee, used to console them. With grief of losing her family from inhuman and barbaric killings, she returned to Bangladesh from deportation ignoring dictator's bloody-eyes on May 17, 1981. Beside adverse political, social and economic environment, the nature environment was also slumber the day she returned. In her long struggling journey, she faced oppression, conspiracy and trickery to establish democracy to protect the people's rights. She has been working since tirelessly with her life at stake for the implementation of the dreams of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
After 1975, during the regime of autocratic leader Ziaur Rahman, the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Awami League were fighting for their existence. They were going through severe torture. On 16 February, 1981, Sheikh Hasina was elected the President of Awami League and when she returned to Bangladesh on 17 May, 1981, none was willing to even rent out a place to her for stay. After the killing of President Zia, another autocratic leader H.M. Ershad was in power then. Many allies of Zia collaborated and joined with Ershad. It was highly insecure environment for Hasina to even live on Bangladesh soil. She was placed under house arrest in 1984 and 1985 by the dictator Ershad.
Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League competed in 1986 election against Ershad but due to severe corruption in that election, Awami League lost. But she kept fighting against that result and the mass people joined with her and on December, 1987 the parliament was declared 'dissolved'. In turns of events and continuous protest of Sheikh Hasina, Ershad had to resign. Here, it is mentionable that, just like Bangabandhu's achievement of independent Bangladesh through a non-violent protest for 23 years against an autocratic government, his daughter achieved a democratic Bangladesh through a non-violent protest against another autocratic government.
As I said, the journey of Sheikh Hasina was not easy. She had to face bullet and grenade attack for 19 times. After forming an Awami League government after long 21 years, Sheikh Hasina took some drastic steps like; signing Hill Tracts peace treaty, Ganges treaty with India, initiating the trial process for Bangabandhu's killers and war criminals etc. But only after 5 years, the power shifted to BNP-Jamaat alliance and Awami League went to back foot again. BNP-Jamaat government came out as a monster and killed many Awami League leaders and activists. Bangladesh turned into a vicious state during that regime with rise in corruption, violence and terrorism. But Sheikh Hasina kept trying to restore democracy and people's rights.
During the 1/11 caretaker government regime, she was arrested and many thought she would not come back to politics of Bangladesh. But her strong will and commitment towards Bangladesh brought her back to power in the election of 2008 with utmost majority and since then she remained the Prime Minister of Bangladesh as she is in her fourth term and consecutive third term as PM.
Sheikh Hasina has now become a world leader from people's leader. She received international laurels and many coveted awards from all around the globe. 'Planet 50-50 Champion' award; 'Agent of Change' award; 'Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize'; 'Mother Teresa Award'; 'M K Gandhi Award'; 'Peace Tree Award'; 'UN Environment Prize'; 'Champions of the Earth Award'; 'ICT Sustainable Development Award'; 'South-South Cooperation Visionary Award'; �SDG Progress Award�; are some of the most notable accomplishment of Sheikh Hasina. Fortune declared her 10th among 50 greatest leaders of the world in 2016. She has received many other awards and recognition for her works and effort.
The leadership of Sheikh Hasina is driving Bangladesh towards a position of honour in front of the whole world. Her leadership will truly help us to live in the 'Shonar Bangla', the dream of Bangabandhu. Under her dynamic leadership, Bangladesh may achieve Vision 2021 and 2041 despite strong depression created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the case is, she will be remembered as one of the all-time greatest leaders of the world.
On the 75th birthday of Sheikh Hasina, we wish her good health and long life. We wish Bangabandhu could have seen that his 'Hashu' has now turned into a global leader.
The writer is a journalist and analyst