7th November 1975: Conflict between 'isms'
7 November 1975 is a historic turnaround for 'Bangladesh politics'. I said 'Bangladesh politics' not 'Bangladesh' because if the event was the very positive move to exonerate the country from many bad elements as the proponents of the day claim, the country would have gone much further than where we stand right now. But, yes, it changed Bangladeshi politics a lot.
Many who are interested in politics tried to understand the dynamics of the present political division and confrontation in Bangladeshi politics. There is a common understanding that the events like 15 August, 3 November, and 7 November 1975 have left some deep regrets among the political groups. I would go even a bit earlier which was the year 1971. There were generally and broadly three typical groups who viewed things (1971 and 1975's events) differently.
The first group belonged to progressive politics (this was a typically mixed group where some belonged to hardcore communism (Marxist-Leninist), some representing the Muslim sentiments but were more progressive (that is what Awami League stands for) who originated from the Muslim League and later denied religion a state role. The second group directly belonged to the Islamist idealism led by the Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami and other small Islamist political parties who strongly favoured a unitary Pakistan and a greater role of religion in society. The third group was quite interesting. They were communists but deeply influenced by Chinese Maoist regime who then was a strong ally of Capitalist America.
Our liberation struggle hovered around the dynamics of these groups' activities. Their roots in other places/countries/ideologies pushed them to act sometimes (and at the critical juncture of history) against their own people. Jamaat and Muslim League were strongly tied to the idea of Pakistan and therefore any action which could endanger the unity of Pakistan faced automatic opposition from them. The Maoist's position was a paradox. Only because of Chinese alliance with America and Pakistan, these people refused to support the liberation war which some of them termed "Dui Kukurer Lorai" (fight of two dogs!).
Therefore, the total upsurge was led by the first progressive group supported by the then Soviet Union and India. Although one can sum up by assessing all these things that the emergence of Bangladesh was part of a geopolitical game, they cannot be dismissed totally. Yet, the strong side of the movement for the liberation struggle was home grown, and the issues which angered people were mostly the infringement of the Bangali's economic, social and political rights, and that was clearly ignored by the second and the third group. The progressive political forces very smartly picked up the right issues at the right time and successfully mobilised people in their favour.
Although their ultimate action (liberation war) served the interest of India and Soviet Union (one wanted to see a defeated Pakistan in its regional power equation and the other wanted to see a defeated America in its global hegemonic tussle), the deep sense of deprivation of the Bangali was above all the other issues. The second and third group sadly failed to understand the nerve of their own people and desperately tried to serve the interest of their foreign masters.
In 1971, the first group claimed a huge victory whereas the second and third group received a humiliating defeat. However, it was America which didn't want to let the communist flag conquer any other region other than Eastern Europe. They only receded for a while. Later, when the dust settled, America, Pakistan and other like-minded countries desperately wanted to stem the tide of communism. As a result, until 1974, there were many attempts made to destabilise the Mujib regime. Nonetheless, there was still hope for America that Mujib couldn't turn hardcore communist given his past endeavour for democratic rights. However, when BAKSAL happened, many saw it as a likely Soviet agenda to transform Bangladesh into a communist model single-party state, which buried the last hope for capitalist America. In this regard, American foreign policy history renders a very bad proposition. They successfully maintained one of their smoothly manoeuvred conspiracy games here in Bangladesh.
It was very sad that the conflict of two ideologies: Communism and Capitalism stretched down to the Bay of Bengal. And although in 1971 the Communist block claimed victory, on 15 August 1975 the latter hit back brutally and sharply which took a formal shape on 7 November, 1971. The November 3 coup was a bit of a resistance by the communist block but the adventurism by JSD leader Colonel Taher was poorly manoeuvred, and thus it failed. Capitalism wanted a brutal revenge but it was not concerned with the subsequent outcome which was that the change could help the Islamists right back to the podium as, by then, Capitalism and Islamism went hand in hand to beat their common foe: Communism. That was best exemplified in Afghanistan where Taliban received indiscriminate US largesse to fight Soviet forces. Ironically, Sheikh Mujib, although knowingly tied with the Communist block, failed to deter the infiltration and the infiltrators due to his misplaced confidence on people's power.
Therefore, whatever one claims about the 7 November, 1975, we can plainly conclude that the state dreamt by the proponents of Bangladesh had been altered by the event of 7 November.
I am sure all these groups or their support bases love Bangladesh now. And after the Soviet demise the global and regional players and power equations have changed dramatically and significantly. But the fact that the days we observe annually: 26 March, 16 December, will exist so long as Bangladesh exists. Therefore, the first group's influence will not erode or be diminished. In this equation, the second group needs to realise and change their propaganda of the 7 November's heroic tales.
There will be much more critical analyses of the event in the coming years, and those from the insiders with more revealing facts will help us understand many other issues. We are eagerly waiting to see that kind of objective assessment of history.
The writer is a freelancer.