Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League

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Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) the only legally recognised party of Bangladesh founded on 7 June 1975 following the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh. Under the Fourth Amendment (Article 117A), bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman was entrusted with the responsibility of forming a new 'national party' which would try to tackle the social, political and economic destabilisation consequent upon the war of liberation on the one hand, and on the other, reconstruct the nation from the debris of the war. Thus authorised, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed a national party which he named Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League. The rules of BAKSAL required all other parties and associations including various services and forces to join the national party and work unitedly in fighting corrosive forces and in rebuilding the nation. Elaborating on the various aspects, scopes and prospects of BAKSAL, Sheikh Mujib characterised it as a 'second revolution'.

In seeking national unity, the Fourth Amendment provided that no person could continue to remain a member of Jatiya Sangsad unless he joined the national party before a time fixed by the President. BAKSAL, the new national party, was scheduled to replace officially the nation's other political organisations and associations on 1 September 1975. Many restrictive regulations coming from the BAKSAL included the promulgation of the Newspaper Ordinance (June 1975) under which the declarations of all but four state owned newspapers were annulled.

Organisationally, President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the BAKSAL chairman, appointed for the national party a fifteen-member executive committee, a 115-member central committee, and five front organisations, namely, Jatiya Krishak League, Jatiya Sramik League, Jatiya Mahila League, Jatiya Juba League and Jatiya Chhatra League. All members of the executive committee were to enjoy the status of ministers. BAKSAL was also designed to overhaul the administrative system of the country in order to make it people-oriented. Reforming the elitist bureaucracy was one major aim of the party. The reorganised bureaucracy under the new system was to stand on two pillars, the central committee at the national level and the administrative council at the district level. Every existing sub-division was to be turned into a district headed by an elected governor.

The administrative council would comprise the members of the Jatiya Sangsad of the district, BAKSAL representatives, and district officials belonging to civil, police and security forces. The governor would be the chief executive of the district with deputy commissioner as his secretary. Such a scheme of local government was a complete departure from the colonial and post-colonial systems that Bangladesh had inherited. It was felt that the district governor system would destroy the vestiges of the exploitative colonial bureaucracy and bring the administration closer to the people and make independence politically and economically meaningful to them. BAKSAL also envisaged large scale nationalisation of private concerns with a view to eliminating social and economic inequalities and exploitations.

In short, BAKSAL, as a system, aimed at achieving an exploitation-free and socialist economic and administrative order more or less close in spirit and contents to the systems of government in contemporary socialist countries.

The new system, in fact, created a lot of misgivings and revulsion amongst the bureaucracy, army, and the civil society. Many of the people who had supported Bangabandhu for his role as a democratic activist, were unhappy to see him as the champion of an authoritarian single party system. However, before the BAKSAL system was put to full operation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally killed (15 August 1975) with other members of his family at his residence. BAKSAL was neither abrogated nor operational until April 1979 when it was removed from the Constitution and a multi-party system reintroduced. [Sirajul Islam]