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Bengal Provincial Muslim League


Bengal Provincial Muslim League was established in Dhaka on 2 March 1912 as a branch of the parent organisation all india muslim league with Nawab Khwaja Salimullah as its president and Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury and Zahid Suhrawardy as secretaries. Three Congressite Muslim leaders: Abul Kashem, Wahid Hossain and Abdur Rasul, were elected as joint secretaries. Forming a Bengal level branch of the central Muslim League in Dhaka was a mark of the political awareness that the Muslims of Bengal developed in course of the Congress-led agitations against the annulment of the Partition of Bengal. In the convening conference, delegates from the mofussil expressed their disgust against the surrender of the British authorities to the Congress agitation and utter neglect of the aspirations of the Muslims of Eastern Bengal and Assam. They also protested the failure of the Muslim League leadership in dealing with the agitation against the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam and their blind loyalty to the Raj. Their common complaint was that the All India Muslim League remained inactive when the Hindus were agitating against the creation of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. Thus the formation of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League (BPML) registered a protest both to the All India Muslim League as well as to the government. The contemporary press and public opinion considered the new League as a political progress made by the Muslims of East Bengal. The most significant aspect of the formation of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League was that its resolutions were drawn in Bangla, not in Urdu as were done in 1906 when the All India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka.

After the death of Nawab Salimullah, the Provincial Bengal Muslim League elected AK Fazlul Huq as its president. On the question of Non-cooperation and khilafat movement there was a rift in the BPML. One group of the BPML headed by Maniruzzaman Islamabadi supported the non-cooperation and Khilafat movement and another group headed by Fazlul Huq and Abul Kashem opposed it. On the question, the BPML expelled Fazlul Huq and Abul Kashem from the party. The Hindu-Muslim collaborators joined hands with Chittaranjan Das and concluded the Bengal Pact in 1923, which formed the apex of Hindu-Muslim unity in Bengal.

After the elections of 1937 and formation of the coalition ministry by Muslim League and Krishak Praja Party (KPP), the BPML was getting increasingly popular, particularly because Fazlul Huq himself joined the Muslim League with his KPP supporters. The BPML got ascendency in Bengal Muslim politics by 1940, when the lahore resolution was adopted. AK Fazlul Huq, the premier of Bengal read out the Lahore Resolution. The BPML got majority seats in the local government elections in 1940. Henceforth, the central Muslim League dealt with Bengal politics only through the BPML. Its increasing popularity is attested by the fact that in the Calcutta Corporation elections held in March 1940, the BPML won 18 out of 22 seats reserved for Muslims. From 1940, Bengal Muslim politics essentially meant BPML politics with hs suhrawardy and abul hashem in the helm of its affairs. [Sirajul Islam]