National Awami Party

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National Awami Party (NAP) a political party founded in July 1957 under the leadership of Maulana abdul hamid khan bhasani. At the council session of the convention of the awami league held at Kagmari in Tangail on 6-10 February 1957, Awami League leaders Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and huseyn shaheed suhrawardy, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, differed on foreign policy of Pakistan. The leftist faction headed by Maulana Bhasani demanded for an independent foreign policy without alignment to any super power bloc. His demand also included maximum autonomy for East Pakistan.

The development eventually culminated in a party rift based on the ideological question. Maulana Bhasani resigned from his position as president of Awami League on 18 March 1957. The party's leftist faction sponsored a conference of 'democratic' workers on 24 and 25 July at Rupmahal Cinema Hall in Dhaka. The National Awami Party was formed in this conference with Maulana Bhasani as president and Mahmudul Haq Osmani of West Pakistan as secretary. The other noted leaders of the new party were Haji Mohammad Danesh, Professor Muzaffar Ahmad, Mohiuddin Ahmad, Mashiur Rahman (Jadu Mia), Pir Habibur Rahman, SA Ahad, Abdul Matin, Abdul Haq, and Ataur Rahman from East Pakistan and Wali Khan, Abdul Majid Sindhi, Mian Iftekhar and others from West Pakistan. Major objectives of NAP were the achievement of full autonomy in East and West Pakistan, introduction of parliamentary democracy and recognition of human rights.

In December 1957, the NAP organised a peasant conference at Phulchhari Char in the Brahmaputra and formed a peasant organ called Krishak Samiti (Peasants' Association). Ayub Khan seized the state power in 1958, and had immediately arrested Maulana Bhasani who went on a hunger strike inside the jail demanding relief goods for the people affected by flood. At the initiative of Maulana Bhasani the All Party Council for Direct Franchise (Sarbadaliya Pratyaksha Votadhikar Sangram Parishad) observed Universal Franchise Day on 18 March 1964. NAP launched election campaign in the presidential polls of 1965 in favour of Miss Fatema Jinnah who was a candidate of the united front of opposition parties.

NAP leaders got divided in the mid-1960s. After the council session of the party held at Rangpur on 30 November 1967, NAP split into two factions branding themselves as pro-Chinese and pro-Moscow groups. Maulana Bhasani became president of the pro-Chinese NAP, and Khan Abdul Wali Khan of Frontier Province of the pro-Moscow NAP. The factions came to be known as NAP (Bhasani) and NAP (Wali). Professor Muzaffar Ahmad was made president of the East Pakistan unit of NAP (Wali), which also came to be known as Muzaffar NAP.

In 1967, Maulana Bhasani convened the council of NAP and the conference of Krishak Samiti, while Professor Muzaffar Ahmed led a requisition council conference. The National Awami Party (Bhasani) initiated a mass movement throughout East Pakistan in 1968. It observed the 'Demand Day' on 3 November with a 10-point charter. It then observed the 'Repression Resistance Day' on 6 December. After a public meeting at the Paltan Maidan on 6 December, Maulana Bhasani organised a gherao around the Government House. A Hartal was called on 7 December. In protest against the killing of an activist in Dhaka by police firing during hartal on 7 December, an extended hartal programme was declared to be observed throughout the province on 8 and 10 December.

National Awami Party declared a programme for people's democratic government in 1972 with the object of establishing socialism. A 7-party alliance was formed under the leadership of Maulana Bhasani to contest in the general elections of 1973. NAP contested in 169 seats in the elections but could not win in any. The Maulana Bhasani observed hunger strike from 15 to 22 May 1973 in Dhaka as a protest against the rise of price of essential commodities and scarcity of foodgrains in the market. The alliance of parties formed under the leadership of Maulana Bhasani continued movement demanding proper supply of foodgrains and control of price of commodities. The government interned the Maulana on 30 June 1973 in his house at Santosh.

A 3-party alliance was formed in 1973 with the Awami League, NAP (Muzaffar) and the Communist Party as its components. Maulana Bhasani formed an opposition alliance consisting of various parties such as, NAP (Bhasani), Jatiya League (Wali Ahad), Jatiya League (Ataur Rahman), Jatiya Gana-Mukti Union (Haji Danesh), Krishak Sramik Samajbadi Dal (Khan Saifur Rahman), Communist Party (Nasim Ali), Communist Party (Leninist). The NAP opposed the India-Bangladesh Friendship Treaty signed on 16 May 1974.

An ad-hoc committee of the National Awami Party (Bhasani) was formed on 15 May 1974, thus forcing a new rift in the faction. A national requisition council was convened on 15 July. The young leftist group of the party led by Kazi Jafar Ahmad and Rashed Khan Menon formed the United People's Party (UPP) on 17 November 1974. Having been disgusted with the wrangle of the party, Maulana Bhasani resigned from the party in November 1974. During the anti-Ershad movement, as many as thirteen factions of the party were traceable in the political arena. At present, the party seems to exist in several factions and sub-factions. [Ranjit Kumar Das]