|The Foreshadowing of Bangladesh
Bengal Muslim League and Muslim Politics 1906–1947
ISBN 984 05 1688 4 2003 400pp 215x136mm HB Tk.525.00 US$27.00
This study covers, what Leonard A. Gordon calls, the ‘neglected history of Bengali Muslims before 1947’. It provides a detailed account of the Bengal Muslim League during the period from 1906 to1947. It covers its various aspects, such as, problems of organisation, policies and mobilisation , nature of leadership, inner party conflict, bases of support and relations with the parent all-India body. A special attempt has been made to show how the formerly popular Krishak Praja Party disappeared from the political scene of Bengal, ironically, during the Chief Ministership of its architect, A.K. Fazlul Huq, and how the Muslim League emerged as the Muslim nationalist movement in eastern India within a decade.
The book makes a distinctive contribution in revealing the fact that, throughout the Pakistan movement there was existing a national variation among the Bengali Muslims and that the statehood ideal of the larger section of the Bengali Muslim leaders was completely different from that of Jinnah. The Bengali Muslim leaders developed the ideal of an independent Eastern Pakistan or some kind of Greater Bengal comprising the whole of Bengal and Assam and some portion of the Purnea district in Bihar under the 1940 Lahore Resolution. For the majority of the Bengali Muslim leaders the Lahore Resolution was meant to have recognized the national variations of the two Muslim–majority zones in North-West and North-East India and the establishment of two separate states in those two regions. The book provides an in-depth discussion of the move for United Independent Bengal in 1947 as initiated by the League Chief Minister H.S. Suhrawardy along with some Bengali Hindu leaders, and examines critically the attitude of Jinnah, the Congress High Command and the British towards the move. The study argues that the national variation of the Bengali Muslims could be subdued temporarily in the 1940s by the general Muslim fear of Hindu domination in united India and concludes that the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state in 1971 may be regarded as the partial fulfillment of the dream in the 1940s for an independent Greater Bengal. The Postscript added to the revised edition gives a bird’s eye view of the subsequent developments in the post-1947 Pakistani period up to 1971 showing how the pre-1947 foreshadowing of Bangladesh did turn into a reality during this phase.
Harun-or-Rashid Ph.D. is Professor of Political Science, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is the author of a number of books and numerous articles published at home and abroad. His works include: Inside Bengal Politics 1936-1947: Unpublished Correspondence of Partition Leaders, (UPL, Dhaka 2003); Bangladesh: Politics, Governance and Constitutional Development, 1757-2000, (in Bangla, Dhaka 2001).He was the Assistant Editor of the three-volume History of Bangladesh,1704-1971, (Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka 1992); Member, Board of Editors, Banglapedia [National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh], (Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka 2003).