BAKSAL: The Ultimate Move Towards Fulfilling Public Aspirations

Bangladesh achieved its much-awaited independence on December 16, 1971, after a nine-month Liberation War under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But many obstacles paved the development of the just-liberated country. The new-born nation just freed from the vicious chain had the cherished dream of leading a prosperous and dignified life. The country could not fulfil all such dreams of having a social system based on equity overnight. The country Bangabandhu found after the Liberation War did not have any roads, highways, bridges, culverts, waterways or ports. The money required for building the infrastructure was not available in the national treasury. The architect of the independent Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was trying his best to revamp the nation, just burnt with fire and bombs, filled with piles of three million deaths and three crores of displaced people. Swearing in as the Prime Minister on January 12, 1972, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started rebuilding the nation according to what people mandated for more than the last decades.

But the task of nation-building had been increasingly difficult. In the war, the Pakistani junta killed millions of hardworking and capable workforces and destroyed the economy, communication system and education and industry throughout the country. During the nine months of the war, the Pakistanis smuggled about a thousand crores of rupees from Bangladesh and burnt all the cash, including gold and silver in the reserves of the Central Bank of Dhaka. This led to a liquidity crisis. The journey of newly independent Bangladesh started empty-handed. 

All-out conspiracies by extreme leftist, reactionaries, ultra-revolutionaries and anti-liberation forces.

Everything was destroyed, and the conspiracies being hatched by defeated Pakistani allies and anti-Liberation forces added fuel to the crisis. The Maoist extremist leftists used the weapons handed over by the Pakistani soldiers to create anarchy and carry out assassinations across the country. After the Liberation War, the extremists started killing the middle class and looting their wealth without surrendering their arms.

Over the misconception, a group of Mujib's young forces formed Jasad and created chaos across the country. Launching armed forces, Jasad even carried out countrywide abduction-attacks-killings amid the catastrophic floods in 1973 and 1974, famine due to lack of crops for war-torn conditions and floods. The Bangabandhu government was still fighting against smuggling, illegal hoarding, global recession and international conspiracies during the 1974 famine.

Within just two years of independence, these extremists and reactionist killer groups murdered at least 2,000 freedom fighters, assassinated more than 5,000 people and attacked and looted weapons from more than 70 police stations. Their activities instigated the rise of anti-liberation war forces. An opportunist class grew in the chance of the whole situation. Even Bangabandhu had to expel 44 MNAs and MCAs of his party on charges of corruption and irregularities.

Tons of difficulties could not stop Bangabandhu

Bangabandhu did not give up despite the deteriorating law and order due to a faction of misguided youth and extremists. Giving them several chances to get back on track, Bangabandhu called for an end to violence with an unconditional apology and asked them to cooperate in the national building. But they did not pay any heed to his calls and became violent. Against all odds, Bangabandhu's government rehabilitated one crore refugees who had returned from India and another two crores people who were displaced and relocated due to the war. Bangabandhu rebuilt more than 43 lakh houses, burnt by the Pakistani military and its allies, and ensured social security for more than two lakh rape victims and their unwanted children. Necessary road-highways were renovated, around six hundred roads and rail bridges, destroyed during the war, were made suitable for communication. During this period, Bangladesh gained recognition from 116 countries and membership in 27 international organizations including the United Nations and the OIC through its diplomatic initiatives. However, the initial steps taken by Bangabandhu to build the country with the first five-year annual plan were hampered in every step due to internal instability.

Bangabandhu almost accomplished major tasks to rebuild the country dealing with these situations in patience for nearly three years. But subversive activities by the reactionaries made the environment inconvenient for Bangabandhu to build up the society and to fulfil the dreams of the country’s people. So, he decided to stabilize the situation quickly. Against such a backdrop, on December 24, 1974, he asked the President to declare a state of emergency constitutionally. Later, he declared the second war to restore a better life for his people and return normalcy in the state and economic activities.

Call for National Unity

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman introduced the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution on January 25, 1975, with the approval of the national parliament. Then he swore as the President of the country with a new type of political system. For the wider interest of the nation, he brought together all the constitutionally organized and mainstream political parties on one platform, which was an initiative to build national unity. Notably, in the election of March 7, 1973, Bangabandhu formed the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik League or BAKSAL with all the parties. He even dissolved his own party Awami League, which had won 293 out of 300 seats.

He announced the reforms to fix the law-and-order situation, speed up the administrative and economic activities, establish the long-standing public demand for a non-discriminatory society, and build a non-communal and prosperous state. The first revolution aimed at achieving independence and the second one was for enjoying the fruits of independence with dignity and prosperity. He wanted to bring a smile to the faces of the poor by establishing a non-communal society - free from exploitation and full economic liberation. That is why people's representatives, politicians, civil society members, government employees, military personnel and other sections of the society were made members of BAKSAL with the declaration of national unity.

The purposes of introducing BAKSAL were manifolds. Bangabandhu wanted to ensure radical reform of the country's economic system, the establishment of a non-discriminatory and non-communal social system with equality and justice, agro-based development for 80% rural people, food security by increasing food production through diversified cooperatives, land management and peasants' rights on land, good governance and reducing public sufferings through decentralization of power and justice system and building a powerful new generation through the science-based education system.

The law-and-order situation improved within four and a half months after the declaration of national unity and the beginning of the Second Revolution. The trend of price hike of daily commodities stopped sharply. The overall situation began to improve.

BAKSAL: New social system and propaganda theories

The 'BAKSAL’ is a significant chapter in the history of the Bengali nation. The founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman initiated the system in 1975 to fulfil the historical demands and aspirations of the people of the country. A notable feature of this system was the decentralization of the state system and practice of democracy even at the local level. The country was divided into 61 districts. The head of each district was a governor, appointed on July 16, 1975. Of the 71 governors, 33 were Members of Parliament (MPs), 13 were government employees, one was a military officer, and the remaining 14 were well-known for their positive social works.

Also, administrative councils were formed at the upazila and district levels. A provision was made to form the district and upazila councils consisting of government and non-government staff, political leaders, MPs, civil society and the local youth community to implement and monitor the development activities in the respective localities. It was even announced that justice would be ensured by reforming the judiciary system and forming tribunals at the upazila level.

Another aspect of this revolution was the introduction of a village-based cooperative production system as part of a long-term plan for economic development. Under the system, multi-purpose cooperatives would be formed in each of the 65,000 villages where a joint production system would be introduced without transferring land ownership. As a result, every working person in the village, other than the landowners, could become a part of the cooperative system and participate in production activities. The government also wanted to provide the cooperatives with adequate funds, fertilizers, test reliefs so that these could reach the marginal people directly, abolishing the presence of the middlemen. Another goal of this initiative was to strengthen the agro-based social structure by distributing the produced crop proportionately among the landowners, cooperatives and the state.

On July 21, 1975, Bangabandhu inaugurated the training for the newly elected governors. Three weeks later, on August 16, they were supposed to take over the administrative roles of their respective districts. That would have been the beginning of materializing the Second Revolution. But this struggle for changing the destiny of the country and its people ended after the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu and his family by the anti-nationalist force on August 15. Trampling the Constitution, the military junta and its allies brought the country under the blanket of darkness. Later, this gang started spreading propaganda about 'management of social change' known as 'BAKSAL' in the greed of enjoying power for a long time, causing immense public miseries.

Through the formation of BAKSAL, Bangabandhu wanted to build a prosperous Bangladesh, based on the four principles of the Constitution, to fulfil the long-standing aspirations of the countrymen. But if it was implemented, it would not have been possible to suppress democracy, social justice and equality would have been achieved, every citizen of Bangladesh, irrespective of religion and caste, would have worked for the country with a strong sense of nationalism; and every single family would enjoy its benefits. But if this initiative was successful, the dictators disguised the ghosts of the Pakistani junta, would not have been able to get privileges, the fanatic group could not have been able to abuse and misinterpret the religion. The defeated Pakistani collaborators would not have slept well if they had seen Bangladesh standing raising its head among other nations in the world. So, all the like-minded groups teamed up together to start a crackdown on the Awami League leaders in absence of Bangabandhu. They spread propaganda about BAKSAL all over the country for years. Due to the propaganda of this evil force, people could not know any accurate information about the idea of BAKSAL. Most of the new generation knows nothing about the philosophy and objectives of the BAKSAL and its connection with the historical aspirations of the country’s people.

BAKSAL’s relations with the historical aspirations of the Bengalis

BAKSAL reflected the dreams and aspirations of the Bengali mass people which they realized at different times under different circumstances during the nation’s long struggle for liberation. The rulers did not fulfil the promises made during the partition of 1947 of improving the destiny of the exploited people. However, BAKSAL aimed at fulfilling those demands of the people. To find out the connection between the historical needs of the Bengali people and the BAKSAL, let us turn our eyes to history.

Seven crore Bengalis became the victims of discrimination and aggression by the West Pakistanis. The speculation that has been done to us in the name of religion was getting clear. After nearly two decades of exploitation, the Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangla) became a crematorium. At one stage, everyone got united to be free from the exploitation of the West Pakistani junta and the Muslim League. In 1954, under the leadership of Suhrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla, Bhasani and Bangabandhu, the United Front (Juktofront) took part in the provincial elections with the boat symbol. The Awami League-led alliance won 215 of the 237 Muslim seats in East Bengal. Why did people choose the United Front for the landslide victory? The reason will be clear when we see the election manifestos of the alliance for the people. In addition to the autonomy of East Bengal and the state language Bengali, the manifesto promised to change the social system. The promises, among others, included land reformation to ensure the rights of the farmers, a cooperative system in agriculture for increasing the production, the canal and irrigation system for best use of the lands, improvement of small and salt industry, a modern education system and actions against corruption etc.

But following the landslide victory and two weeks into the formation of the government, a conspiracy was hatched to impose central rule in East Bengal and Bangabandhu was arrested. As a result, the intense aspirations of millions of Bengalis were no longer fulfilled. Rather further exploitation continued to an extreme stage. As a result, self-sufficient Bengal faced a dire food crisis from 1964. Our homeland was turning into a crematorium due to the aggression in the economic and administrative sectors.

After a long way of struggle, the national election was finally held in 1970. Now this time the Awami League under the sole leadership of Bangabandhu announced a manifesto to build a society free from exploitation. The issues highlighted in the manifesto were a dignified life of the people, social justice and equality, priority of rural development, radical reform of agricultural and land systems, agricultural revolution through cooperatives, reforms for flood control and water management, ensuring rights of farmers and workers. To fulfil these aspirations, people spontaneously chose the boat to vote in the elections. As a result, the Awami League won a total of 160 seats in the National Assembly and gained the rights to form a government as the single majority party of united Pakistan. But Alas! The Pakistani junta did not allow the majority of Bengalis to form a government, instead started the barbaric genocide of history in the dark of night of March 25.

In short, the people of Bengal voted exclusively for boat and Bangabandhu in the elections of 1954, 1970 and 1973 for materializing their rights and demands. But those who could not accept the existence of independent Bangladesh deliberately conspired against development activities of improving the social system and the living standards of people. Therefore, they have carried out regular propaganda against the masterplan of rebuilding the country. However, if this plan was materialized, Bangladesh might have been a developed country long ago through the agricultural and industrial revolution.