Although Bangladesh is a newer state formation, it is an
ancient nation with roots left to the ancient Bengal
kingdom. Its history has been known for thousands of years
through the epic poem Mahabharat - the poem of
hundreds of thousands of lines, also known as "The Great
History of Mankind".
In the 17th century, the British East India Company
called the country "Bengal". Immediately after the split
between India and Bengal in 1947, it was given the name East
Bengal, and when the new state formation Pakistan in 1956
became a reality, it was called East Pakistan. The country
emerged as an independent state in 1971 and then got its
current name, Bangladesh, meaning "the country where Bengali
the Hindu faith arose when the Indo-Aryan people came to the
Indian subcontinent 3-4 thousand years ago. In the 13th
century, Muslims occupied the area and became part of a
number of changing Afghan dynasties. At the same time, the
connection with the Islamic government in Delhi was broken.
The area was later occupied for shorter periods by forces
from the Delhi government. In the 16th century during the
occupation of the moguls, the area gained autonomous status.
Later it gained the status of independent nation, though it
still had to give allegiance to the prince of Delhi.
1971-75 The Awamiliga in power
It was agreed that the Constituent Assembly should meet
in Dhaka on March 25, 1971. But after secret meetings
between the general, Bhutto and Mujibur collapsed, West
Pakistani troops moved into Dhaka on the evening of March
25. The Civil War had broken out. The East Pakistanis now
declared themselves independent and gave the country the
name Bangladesh. A liberation army emerged, Mukti Bahini,
who used guerrilla tactics. India, looking favorably on the
new state formation, intervened in the conflict in December
by sending regular troops into the country to support the
Liberation Army. By then, 3 million had been killed and 10
million Bengals had fled across the border to India.
Fourteen days later - on December 16 - the fighting was
over. Bangladesh was an independent state.
The Awamiliga had a social democratic feel. However, it
lacked a clear ideology. Its main competitor was the
National Awami Party (NAP) which was socialist but had been
subject to repeated divisions. NAP boycotted the elections
in 1970 because the party leadership did not consider it
possible to realize the necessary social transformation of
society within the framework of the parliamentary system.
The banned pro-Soviet Communist Party - a NAP outbreak group
- supported the Awamiliga's line. Three other outbreak
groups were pro-Chinese. But China's support for the West
Pakistani military junta created confusion and division
among these groups.
Mujibur Rahman became the country's first prime minister.
On December 16, 1972, Bangladesh adopted a new constitution
that made the country a parliamentary democracy. The major
industries, the banks and insurance companies were
nationalized. Democracy, worldliness, socialism and
nationalism were declared the pillars of the state.
However, a strong dissatisfaction with Mujibur's rule
quickly developed. The ruling party had no experience with
administration and at the same time corruption and failed
harvest yields made the conditions unsustainable. People
began to revolt and guerrilla groups were formed all over
the country. In December 1974, the government declared the
country in a state of emergency. In January 1975, Mujibur
proclaimed "the Second Revolution". It was a tactical move
to reinvigorate the political initiative. The parliamentary
rule was repealed and replaced with a one-party state. The
Awamiliga was dissolved and he formed the "Bangladesh
Peasants, Workers and Peoples League" BAKSAL, consisting of
members from his own party and the pro-Soviet Communist
Party. But Mujibur's new community was very similar to the
old one. Most former Awami leaders remained in their
positions of power.