United Front Election

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  • Topic: A. K. Fazlul Huq, East Bengal, Bengali Language Movement
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  • Published : May 5, 2013
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Elections 1954  were held in March 1954 under the India Act of 1935, and on the basis of universal adult franchise. The contesting parties in the elections were the ruling muslim league and a five-party alliance called united front. The major partners of the Front were the Awami Muslim League led by Maulana abdul hamid khan bhasani, the krishak sramik party by ak fazlul huq, Nezam-e-Islam led by Maulana Atahar Ali, and Ganatantri Dal led by haji mohammad danesh.

In the elections held from 8 to 12 March, 1285 candidates contested for 304 seats, 5 seats having been won uncontested. Of them, 986 were Muslim candidates for 228 seats, 101 Hindu candidates for 30 seats, 151 scheduled caste candidates for 36 seats. The seats for the non-Muslims were contested by candidates mainly from the Pakistan National Congress, United Progressive Party and the Scheduled Caste Federation. The total electors numbered 1,97,48,568 of whom 73,44,216 (37.19%) cast their votes. The lower turnout was ascribed to poor communications in rural areas and the reluctance of conservative Muslim women to come out of their houses.

The elections resulted in a landslide victory for the United Front which won 228 seats in a House of 309 (including nine reserved seats for women). On the other hand, the ruling Muslim League, the party which was in power directly or indirectly ever since 1937, managed to get only 7 seats. Chief Minister Nurul Amin was defeated by a young law student, Khaleque Newaz. Of the total of 228 elected Front members, 143 belonged to Awami Muslim League, 48 to Krishak Sramaik Party, 22 to Nezam-e-Islam, 13 to Ganatantri Dal and 2 to Khilafat-e-Rabbani Party. Of the non-Muslim seats, Congress got 25, Scheduled Caste Federation 27, and the United Front of the Minorities 13.

The United Front campaigned on an election manifesto consisting of 21-points. Among these points were the recognition of Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan, abolition of zamindari system, nationalising jute trade, introduction of cooperative farming, rehabilitation of regugees, flood control, modernising agriculture, reforming the education system, rescinding all black laws, rationalising the pay scale, erradication of corruption, separating judiciary from the executive, erection of a monument in memory of language martyrs, converting Burdwan House into a Bangla Language development institute, declaring 21 February as Shaheed Day and a public holiday, and establishment of full provincial autonomy. These popular demands were put up by the leaders like A.K Fazlul Huq, huseyn shaheed suhrawardy, Maulana Bhasani and sheikh mujibur rahman. With the help of left political workers, United Front leaders could operate at grassroot level something which the League could never achieve. The United Front could fully exploit issues like the incidence of 21 February 1952, and ever rising prices of essential goods, particularly of salt and rice. The large scale detention of opposition political workers also made the people suspicious of the intentions of the Muslim League.

The United Front's victory proved to be illusory long before the euphoria wore out. On March 25, East Pakistan governor Choudhury Khaliquzzaman asked Krishak Sramik Party leader A K Fazlul Huq to form the ministry. But in the ministry formed on 3 April the Awami Muslim League was left out. This created a crisis in the Front, and Fazlul Huq was obliged to expand his cabinet on May 15 by including abul mansur ahmed, ataur rahman khan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Abdus Salam Khan and Hashimuddin. The same day (15 May) a serious riot between the Bangali and non-Bangali workers of the adamjee jute mill at Narayanganj caused the death of nearly 1500 workers. The communist activists were held responsible for the incident, and the Fazlul Huq government was blamed for its failure in controlling the situation. On May 30, the ministry was dismissed and direct rule was imposed by the governor. Around 1600 Front...
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