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Remembering Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy

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05th-Dec-2016       
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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder :
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, (1892-1963) was born in a respectable Muslim family at Medinipur in West Bengal. He was educated with B.Sc (honors) and BCL from Oxford University. Returned to India in 1920 he became actively involved in politics "During his political career, Suhrawardy held various important offices including the Deputy Mayoralty of the Calcutta Corporation in 1924, Labour and Commerce Minister in AK Fazlul Huq's Praja-League coalition government formed following the 1937 elections, Civil Supplies Minister in the Khwaja Nazimuddin Ministry during 1943-1945, the Prime Minister (chief minister) of undivided Bengal during 1946-1947, Law Minister in Mohammad Ali's Cabinet in Pakistan during 1954-1955 and the Prime Minister of Pakistan during 1956-1957.  Suhrawardy was an able political organiser. He proved his ability while he had been the General Secretary of the Calcutta Khilafat Committee in the 1920s. Starting his practical life as a labour leader in Calcutta, within a short period of time he succeeded in organising as many as 36 trade unions among seamen, railway employees, jute and cotton mills workers, rickshaw pullers, cart drivers, etc. On the eve of the 1926 Council elections he founded the Independent Muslim Party. At the time of the next Council elections held in 1929, Suhrawardy organised a new body, namely the Bengal Muslim Election Board. He founded the United Muslim Party in Kolkata preceding the 1937 elections with himself as its secretary." (Harun-or-Rashid' B'Pedia)
Suhrawardy  joined the Swaraj Party of Desbanbhu  Chittaranjan Das  in 1921. 'He became the Mayor of Calcutta, the largest city in British India, during the 1930s, and later, as a member of the All-India Muslim League, assumed the premiership of Bengal in the mid-1940s. Along with Sarat Chandr Bose, Suhrawardy mooted the United Bengal proposal, in an attempt to prevent the Partition of Bengal (Wikipedia)
Suhrawardy was also concerned with the interests of the Muslim, joined the movement in the pursuit of a separate homeland for the Muslims. . 'In 1932 he attended the Third Round Table Conference in London as a representative of his community. He was an ardent supporter of the Separate Electorate System for the Muslims. Suhrawardy was the mover of official resolution of the Delhi Muslim Legislators' Convention held on 7-9 April 1946 by the initiative of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. During his Chief Ministership there occurred the 'Great Calcutta Killings' on the occasion of the Direct Action Day  called by the  Muslim League in  16 August 1946 in support of the demand for Pakistan.'
During the British period he fought for establishing the rights of the Muslim in Bengal and thus joined Pakistan movement, yet he was non communal even saving the lives of the both Hindus and Muslims in the event of communal disturbance. It is generally accepted that the Calcutta riots on and after Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946, called by Jinnah. . Both Suhrawardy and his discipile Mujib  had regard for Desbandhu . He believed that had Desbanbhu  lived longer he would have eliminated the causes of Hindu-Muslim conflict" Bangladeshi friends told me in Dhaka in the 1970s that if Das had lived and been able to guide Congress politics, there may not have been a partition of India. (S.A. Karim)
He did not come to Pakistan immediately after its birth on 14 August 1947. For, he was busy in peace mission. Also his relation with Muslim League was not cordial. So he stayed in Calcutta for sometime.  Going to Pakistan  ' he became 'a leading populist statesman of East Pakistan, leaving the Muslim League to join the newly formed centre-left Awami League in 1952. Along with  A. K. Fazlul Huq and Maulana Bhashani, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman he led the 'pan-Bengali United Front alliance' to a resounding victory in the 1954 East Bengal elections and defeated the Muslim League.'  Being the mentor of Bangabandhu he advocated parity formula as central government from the very beginning discriminated against East Pakistan . He was advocating the path of addressing the problem of disparity through constitutional means. His contribution to the framing of 1956 constitution deserves mention.
The four leaders like Suhrawardy,  Bangabandhu, Sher-e-Bangla and Maulana Bhasani  witnessed  seminal events during colonial and post-colonial periods  sometime with volcanic eruption of mass sentiment. They put their heads together in the spirit of co-operation in the struggle for democracy. Sheikh Mujib impressed his compatriots all with his organizational dexterity, charisma and uncompromising mindset with tremendous courage..  Suhrawardy from the very beginning of his rapport with Mujib  noted 'young Mujib's name and address and was later to write to him to stay in touch. Thus began an association between mentor and pupil that was to last till the former's death.' Mujib's  understanding  with Bhasani and Sher-e-Bangla deepened in the midst of resistance against palace politics in Pakistan.  Mujib did not see eye to eye with Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Haque in the movement for a separate homeland for the Muslims especially the role Muslim League.  It does not mean that there was no love lost between these two great leaders. Both were progressive in mindset-feeling for the ordinary masses. Mujib joined Jukto Front government with Suhrawardy  and Sher-e-Bangla in 1954. Nevertheless, Mujib used to rub shoulders with Suhawardy keeping in touch with him at regular intervals.
'In 1956, the Awami League formed an alliance with the Republican Party to lead a coalition government in Pakistan. Suhrawardy became prime minister and pledged to resolve the energy crises, address economic disparities between East and West Pakistan, and strengthen the armed forces. His initiatives included supply side economic policies planning nuclear power and energy and reorganizing and reforming the Pakistani military.
In foreign policy, he pioneered a strategic partnership with the United States. Faced with pressure from the bureaucracy and business community over his policies in aid distribution, nationalization and opposition to the One Unit scheme, he was forced to resign on 10 October 1957, under threat of dismissal by President Iskandar Mirza . He was banned from public life by the military junta of General Ayub Khan. Suhrawardy died in 1963 in Beirut, Lebanon after suffering a massive heart attack.'
May his departed soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen.

(Dr. Mashreque is professor, Public Administration, Chittagong University and Dr. Kashem is a Member,  PSC)

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