Revolutionary mass upheaval generally weakens the people's respect for authority, law, and discipline; and it brings in its wake social, economic, and political disorders, facilitating the establishment of an authoritarian regime. The French Revolution was based on the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity; but the destruction of the old social and political fabric, and the failure to institutionalize the new ideas, led Frenchmen to search for “the man of genius destined at once to carry on and to abolish the revolution.” The Russian Revolution of 1917 was also followed by several years of civil war, which led to the establishment of the ruthless totalitarian regime of Stalin, itself reminiscent of the Thermidorian Reaction. In Algeria, Cuba, China, and North Vietnam, successful mass armed revolutions have been consolidated only because of their one-party dictatorships.



In the present version of this paper, the author's evaluation of the current political situation is presented only in the concluding section. Biographical notes on prominent politicians are given in the Appendix.


For a detailed discussion of the Bangladesh revolution of 1971, see

Maniruzzaman T. , “Radical Politics and the Emergence of Bangladesh” in Brass P. R. and Franda M. F. (eds.),
Radical Politics in South Asia
The MIT Press
), pp.


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested on the night of 25 March 1971. He was taken to West Pakistan and kept in detention in a solitary prison cell in a district town. Later he was tried by a special military court for “waging war against the Pakistan Government and other treasonable activities” and given die death sentence. The sentence was approved by General Yahya Khan, as Chief Martial Law Administrator; but before the sentence could be carried out, General Yahya was replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan. Bhutto released Sheikh Mujib and sent him to London by a special plane; from there he flew to Bangladesh via India. See the proceedings of the press conference of Sheikh Mujib in London on 8 January 1972, published in the Morning News (Dacca), 9 January 1972.


The Cabinet was later expanded to 23 members. Of these, 8 were in their early 50'ss, 13 in their 40's, and one in his 30's in age. The oldest Minister, and the only Hindu in the Cabinet, was 70. The group consisted of 13 lawyers, 4 businessmen, 3 professional politicians, a college professor, a landholder, and a former Pakistan Army officer, One was a relative of Sheikh Mujib. All but four of the Ministers were associated with the Awami League since the 1950's. Biographical sketches of the Ministers were published in The Bangladesh Observer and other daily newspapers of Dacca on 20 and 29 January and 14 and 15 April 1972.


For a detailed discussion of the constitution-making in Bangladesh, see

Huq A. F. ,
“Constitution-Making in Bangladesh,”
Pacific Affairs
, Vol.
), pp.


Section 1 of Article 42 in Part 111.


Articles 42 and 47.


See the Constituent Assembly Debates, 30 October 1972, published in The Bangladesh Observer, 31 October 1972.


According to the Election Commission, of the total 33, 787, 638 registered voters, nearly 55 percent voted in the elections held on 7 March 1973.


See, for example, Walter Schwarz, “How Bangladesh Lost its Political Virginity,” Guardian (London), reprinted in The Wave (Dacca), 31 March 1973; Sirajul Hossain Khan, “Electoral Democracy Buried,” Holiday (Dacca), 18 March 1973.


Nine were in their 40's, and 5 in their 30's; all had been long associated with the AL. Seven were lawyers, 2 journalists, 2 college professors, one a doctor, and one a landholder.


As of 31 December 1973, Bangladesh had received food assistance worth 173 million dollars and multilateral aid worth 350 million dollars through UNROB and other international agencies. In addition, friendly countries provided a total of 850 million dollars as grants and credits during the same period. The credits and grants assistance, including UNROB operations, was possibly the highest ever received by any underdeveloped country during such a short period in recent times. [The countries that provided credit and grants included the U. S., West Germany, Denmark, the U. K., India, U.S.S.R., Australia, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, East Germany, Hungary, and others.] Among these countries, the United States topped the list by offering 132 million dollars as grants on a bilateral basis. This does not include the assistance rendered by the U. S. through UNROB. The figures of foreign assistance, grants and credits were released by the Bangladesh Planning Commission and published in The Bangladesh Observer, 26 March 1974.


Mustafa Sarwar, “Why you should vote for Awami League,” in the special supplement on “Election and the Awami League,” The BangladeshObserver, 3 March 1973.


For these figures, see The Bangladesh Observer, 7 July 1973; the statement of the State Minister for Information and Broadcasting in Parliament, 28 January 1974, reported in Banglar Bani (Dacca), 29 January 1974; and The lttjaq (Dacca), 1 December 1973.


This banyan tree was destroyed by the Pakistan Army on the night of 25 March 1971. A new sapling was implanted in the same place by Senator Edward Kennedy, when he visited Bangladesh soon after liberation.


See Ghoshona Patra (Manifesto), Bangladesh Chatra (Students) League, published by Moham-mad Ekramul Huq—Publicity Secretary, Bangladesh Chatra League, July 1972, pp. 9–10.


See Holiday (Dacca), 23 July 1972.


See Preface, Ghoshona Patra, Bangladesh Chatra League, 1972; Ghoshona Patra, Jatio Samajtantrik Dal, published by Sultanuddin Ahmad—Publicity Secretary, Jatio Samajtantrik Dal, January 1973, pp. 7–11 14; “Political Resolution adopted in the National Convention of the Jatio Sramik League” held on 16 January 1974, published in Gonokantha (Dacca), 18 January 1974.



Huq A. F. M. Mahbubul ,
Barshik. Karjobiborini, 1972–73
(Annual Report, 1972–73) published by Central Committee,
Bangladesh Chatra League
, pp.
, 4, 6, 7


See the text of the 29-point charter of demands issued by JSD published in Gonokantha, 9 January 1974.


See The Bangladesh Observer, 18 March 1974. According to the JSD press release on the night of 17 March, 300 JSD leaders and workers, including 45 women, wer e wounded by a police lathi-charge and firing opened by the Rakhi Bahini on the occasion of peaceful gherao of the Home Minister's residence. The number of persons arrested is given as 250. See, Banglar Bani, 18 March 1974.


See the Special Report in Banglar Bani, 1 April 1974.


See Ekfi Monolithic Communist Party Gore Tulun (Build up One Monolithic Communist Party), published by Bangladesh Communist Sanghati Kendra (Solidarity Center of Bangladesh Com-munists), February 1972 (EPCP(M-L), led by Amal Sen and Nazru lslam, formed this Center soon after liberation.); Party Gorar Sangram (Struggle to Build a Party), published by Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries, April 1972; Bangladesher Communistra Oilikobadha Houn (Communist s of Bangladesh Unite), published by Communist Karmi Sanga (Communist Workers' Association), November 1972 (The Communists of Khulna, led by Dr. Maroof Hossain and Dr. Sayeddur Dahar, formed the Communist Workers'Association.).


Interview with Nasim Ali Khan on 21 February 1974.


See Ghoshona (Manifesto), Bangladesher Communist Party (Leninbadi), published by Comrade Amal Sen—Secretary BCP(L), 1972, pp. 11–12, 25–33, 34–5, and 38–44; also Bangladesher Communist Party Leninbadir Ahban (Appeal of the Communist Party of Bangladesh-Leninist), publishcd by Comrade Amal Sen—General Secretary, Central Committee, BCP(L), February 1974.


See “Who will win in NAP,” Holiday, 17 February 1974.


For the arguments and counter-arguments on these issues put forward by the BCP (Leninist) and the BCP, see Banglar Communist Partir Abedon (Appeal to the Communist Party of Bengal), published by Solidarity Centre of Bangladesh Communists (n.d.); Biplobi Party Gore Tultin (Build up a Revolutionary Party), published by BCP, January 1972; “Banglar Communist Partir Bartaman Rajnitik Sanghatanik Karjobali” (Present Political and Organizational Works of the Communist Party of Bengal) in Mufti Shapath (Liberation Vow), Vol. 1 (1, 1972), pp. 3–6; “China Veto Proyog Prashange” (About the Chinese use of the Veto), ibid. Vol. 1 (5, 1972), pp. 12–13. Mufti Shapath is the organ of the open branch of the BCP. Also see, Banglar Communist Partir Nirbachani Ghoshona (Election Manifesto of the Communist Party of Bengal), published by Deven Sikdar and Abdul Bashar, February 1973; and “Bangladesher Marxbadier Oikko Proshange” (On the Unity of the Marxists of Bangladesh), Mufti Shapath, Vol. 1 (2, 1972), p. 4.


The Sarbohara Party theoreticians use the name East Bengal instead of Bangladesh. Bangladesh, in its literary connotation, means the land of Bengalis and thus includes West Bengal. Sarbohara leaders argue that East Bengalis—within their own territory and with their own language, economic and social system, and distinctive culture—have evolved historically as a distinct nation different from other nationalities of the Indian sub-continent. So, their land should be called East Bengal rather than Bangladesh. See Purbo Banglar Ashomapto Jatio Conotantrik Biplob Somponno Korar Kormosuchi (Program to Complete the Unfinished National Democratic Revolution of East Bengal), published by Central Committee, Purbo Bangla Sarbohara Party (n.d.), pp. 1–3.


Some of the recent publications of the Sarbohara Party are: Siraj Sikdar, Samajtantra Shreni Sangram 0 Samajik Biplob Prasange (On Socialism, Class Struggle, and Social Revolution); Bibhinna Akritir Songsodhonbad Prashange Keolkti Rochona (A Few Articles on the Various Kinds of Rcvolution); Bibhinna Dhormabolombi Jatigo to Ebong Bhashabhashi Jonogoner Jonno Purbo Bangla Sarbohara Partir Kormosuchi (The Program of the East Bengal Sarbohara Party Regarding the Various Religious, National, and Linguistic Minorities); Purbo Banglar Jatio Mukti Vronter Ghoshona Patra O Kormosuchi (Manifesto and Program of the East Bengal National Liberation Front); Purbo Banglar Antorikbhabe Sarbohara Biplobider Moddhe Oikko Protistha Samparke Purbo Bangla Sarbohara Partir i No. Bibriti (Number 1 Statement of the Sarbohara Party Regarding the Establishment of Unity Among the Sincere Communist Revolutionaries of East Bengal); Purbo Banglar Sarbohara Partir Prothom Jatio Congresse Prodhotta Report (Report Presented to the First National Congress of the East Bengal Sarbohara Party); Bortoman Paristhiti Prosange Koekti Dalil (Some Documents Regarding the Present Situation); Purbo Bangla Sarbohara Partir Bijoy Anibarjo (The Triumph of the East Bengal Sarbohara Party is Inevitable). See also GonojudharPatobhumi (Background of Peoples' War) (published by Iqbal Ahmad, October 1973); and Siraj Sikdar, Somajtantra Shreni Songram O Samajik, Biplob Proshange (On Socialism, Class-struggle, an d Socialist Revolution), (n.p., n.d.), pp. 9–12.


Matilana Bhashanir Bibriti (Maulana Bhashani's Statement), 2 December 1973 (n.p.).


For a detailed discussion of the 1966 EPCP split between pro-Moscow and pro-Peking leftists, and the later growth of several factions among the pro-Peking leftists, see Maniruzzaman, op. at.


See Purbo Banglar Paristhitir Upor Purbo Bangla Sammobadi Dal (Marxbadi-Leninbadir) Dvitio latio Congress Grihito Siddhanta (Resolutions Reached at the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of East Bengal [Marxist-Leninist] Concernin g the Situation in East Bengal), 17 January 1973 (n.p.), pp. 2–5; and Gono Shakti, Vol. II (4, 5, & 8, 1973).


See Bortoman Paristhite Purba Banglar Sammabadi Dal (Marxbadi-Leninbadi) Ki Choi (What does the Communist Party [Marxist-Leninist] Want in the Present Situation?), October 1973 (n.p.); “Ek Bhuiphor Biplobi Samparke” (On an Upstart Revolutionary), Gono Shakfi, Vol. II (2, 1973), pp. 4–28.


See “Jasod” (JSD), Gono Shakfi, Vol. II (4 and 5, 1973), pp. 6–32.


See the editorial “Shashastr a Jatio Biplobi Juddher Parichalak—Ispath Kadin Sramik Srenir Biplobi Partike Gore Tulun” (Build up the Stcel-like Revolutionary Party of the Workers—the Leader of Armed National Revolutionary War) in Jono Juddho [Peoples' War], No. 7 (1973), p. 7. Juno Juddho—the underground paper of the EPCP(M-L)—is edited by Abdul Haq. Also see Shashastra ]atio Biplobi Juddhoke Egie Neey Chalun (Take Forward the Armed National Liberation War), published by the EPCP(M-L), 24 December 1972.


See Editorial, Purbo Bangla, Vol. IV (2, 1973), pp. 2–3; and Sadhan Karmokar (probably a pseudonym of one of the leaders of the EBCP(M-L), “Bharater Biplobi Sangrame Chiner Nirobata: ‘Ke Kon Drishtithe Dhekhe’ “(China's Silence on the Revolutionary Struggle in India: “Who Sees From What Angle”) in Ibid., pp. 6–8.


Bangladesh Observer, 1 December 1973.


See Banglar Bant, 15 October 1973; and the report of the meeting of the Central Committee of the GOJ in Bangladesh Observer, 23 October 1973. Also see Banglar Bani, 21 November 1973 and 24 March 1974; and Gonokantha, 13 December 1973.


The fundamental rights—defined in Articles 36 37, 39, 40 and 42—include the following as “subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest”: freedoms of movement, assembly, association, speech an d expression, press, profession, and rights to property. For these laws, see proceedings of the Jatio Sangsad published in the Bangladesh Observer, 19 July 1973.


See the Bangladesh Observer, 29 and 30 January, 2 and 6 February 1974 for proceedings of the Jatio Sangsad concerning these laws. (Italics added. ) On December 24, 1973 Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury resigned from the office of President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Immediately thereafter, he was appointed Special Representative of Bangladesh. The official version of the resignation was that Justice Choudhury wanted to be more active in service to the nation than was possible as the “dignified head “of the state. (See Bangladesh Observer, 25 December 1973.) However, the opposition newspapers stated (and informed Awami League circles later confirmed to this author) that Justice Choudhury had been unhappy about the strong-arm method s used by the Awami League-affiliated Students' League in the Students ' Union elections in Dacca University, and promulgation of Presidential Orders and enactment of various “special powers Acts” that negate the principle of due process of law. Since the government did not pay any heed to his advice on these matters, President Choudhury resigned. See Gonokantha, 25 Decembcr 1973: Holiday, 30 December 1973. As provided by the constitution, Muhammadullah—die Speaker of the Jatio Sangsad—became the Acting President and in January 1974 was formally elected President unopposed. Muhammadullah, 52, educated in Calcutta and Dacca Universities, is a trained lawyer. One of the closest associates of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Muhammadullah was Office Secretary of the East Pakistan Awami League from 1953 to 1971.


The allocation for the Bangladesh Rifles, a border-security force, was only Taka 80 million in the budget for 1973–74. (See Gonokantha, 30 June 1973.


The Bangladesh Observer, 19 July 1973; and Gonokantha, 19 and 26 December 1973.


Bangladesh Observer, 9 February 1974.


See Banglar Bani, 10 and 16 May; 4 June; 10, 16, and 17 July; 2, 20, 24, and 30 August; 12, 23, 27, and 30 September; and 6 October 1972. Also Bangladesh Awami Leaguer Nirbachani Ishtehar (Election Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League), published by Sardar Amjad Hossain—Publicity Secretary, Bangladesh Awami League, 1973, p. 6; and Khandokar Mohammad Ilias, Mujibbad (Mujibism), Dacca: National Publications, 1972.


For an account of this split, see Ittefaq, 31 March and 1 April 1974. For the university incidents, see Banglar Bani April 6, 1974; and Holiday, April 7, 1974.


See the reports published in the pro-government Banglar Bani, 30 September and 12 November 1973, 3 January and 3 March 1974. According to A. H. M. Kamruzzaman, the Commerce Minister, of the total 25,000 import permit holders, about 15,000 are “fake” importers. See Gonokantha, 3 January 1974. Most of the permits for opening indenting firms have also been given to AL workers and sympathizers. The “easy money” made by these “fake “traders is spent either in ostentatious living or transferred to foreign banks. It is primarily because of this fact, and the large-scale smuggling of relief goods to India, tha t the pumping of massive foreign aid (about 200 million dollars in cash and kind) into Bangladesh during the first two years of independence failed to revitalize the Bangladesh economy.


See Gonokantha, 1 June 1973.


See Presidential Address of Dr. Mazharul Huq, in the first annual session of Bangladesh Arthoniti Samiti (Bangladesh Economic Association), 1974 (published by Bangladesh Economic Association), pp. 5–6. For an example of opposition comment, see Nirbachani Ishtehar (Election Manifesto), National Awami Party (Bhashani), published by Qazi Jafar Ahmad, 1973, p. 3. The Manifesto dubs the Awami League Lut Pat Samiti (Association of Looters).


Ed. note: Since this article was written, a consortium to aid Bangladesh ha s been formed inside the World Bank. The consortium is to include three oil-producing nations. In addition, in order to improve th e climate for foreign aid and investment, Mujib has assured that aid funds will not be squandered corruptly; more concretely, he has raised the ceiling for private-sector investment from $3 to 4 million. He has also declared a moratorium on nationalization of industries for 15 years, and has allowed for liberal repatriation of profits and salaries for foreign companies. See Kasturi Rangan in the New York. Times, 18 October 1974.


Syed Nazrul Islam, Minister for Industries, told Parliament that the total loss suffered by the nationalized industries in the first year after independence was Taka 322.4 million. See The Bangladesk Observer, 23 June 1973.


Ed. note: This figure supplied by editor from New York Times, 18 October 1974.

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