The Awami League, one of the oldest political parties in South Asia, turns 67 today.
Formed in 1949 as a challenger to the then Muslim League, the AL turned out to be a secular and democratic force.
For more than six years since its inception, the party had carried the name Awami Muslim League. In 1955, it shed the word “Muslim” from its name.
The party was led by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy and Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish until its then general secretary Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected as the party chief.
The party's journey has not been smooth. It was banned during the martial law regime of General Ayub Khan in 1958. Its entire top leadership was put behind bars until 1963.
The AL joined an opposition alliance in 1962 and backed Fatema Jinnah in the 1965 presidential election against Field Marshal Ayub Khan.
In February 1966, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib placed the historic six-point plan of regional autonomy for Pakistan's federating provinces at a conference of opposition leaders in Lahore.
Bangabandhu was arrested in the Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968 and was put on trial. But the mass upsurge in 1969 forced the Ayub regime to free him in February that year. Mujib gradually evolved as the unparalleled leader of the Bangalees. Under his leadership, the AL won a landslide victory in the 1970 national election.
The party led the country's Liberation War in 1971. Two years later, it secured victory in the country's first general election.
In June 1975, the AL-led government introduced BAKSAL -- a one-party system of government -- by dissolving all other political parties, including the AL. But the BAKSAL government was overthrown in August that year after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Bangabandhu along with most of his family members was brutally murdered on August 15, 1975. Only his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were in the then West Germany.
The party was revived during the martial law regime in 1977. Abdul Malek Ukil and Abdur Razzaq were elected party president and general secretary in the AL council in 1978.
Factional conflicts escalated before the party's next council in 1981. The party council elected Hasina, who was abroad then, as the AL president. She has been leading the party ever since.
During its long journey, the AL as a component of the Jukta Front earned a landslide victory against Muslim League in 1954 general election. It also led movements against the anti-people education policy in 1962.
The AL would start the day by hoisting national and party flags atop all its offices across the country today. Besides, pigeons and balloons would be released.
Party leaders would place floral wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32.
The party would host a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at 2:30pm, to be chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In a press statement, AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam yesterday called upon the leaders, activists and supporters of the party and its front and associated bodies to observe the day with due respect.