Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech in The Constituent Assembly’ of Pakistan, 4th Feb, 1956

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech in The Constituent Assembly’ of Pakistan, 4th Feb, 1956

The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan met in the Assembly Chamber, with Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Mr. C.E. Gibbon in the Chair to discuss the right to form political parties and trade unions etc.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Although I have them a long rope yesterday, I am quite sure that I did not allow them to go on repeating the same argument over and over again.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib - second from left, bottom row - in the cabinet of A. K. Fazlul Huq in East Bengal, 1954
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib – second from left, bottom row – in the cabinet of A. K. Fazlul Huq in East Bengal, 1954


Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad (East Bengal: Muslim) Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, clause 10 in the draft mentions about “associations” only. It is …….. they tried to form…..

Honourable Deputy Speaker: It seems to be a favorite pas-time with you.

Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy: It is the favorite pastime of the Government.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Not with us. That is the tendency. For two or three months when we started an opposition party this thing happened. We declare our state as a democratic state, in which every party has the right to start opposition party, and as such they have no right to stop it. Here, there and everywhere you can see subject to any restrictions imposed by law’. Sir, this phraseology is a very dangerous thins.

You can understand what capital can be made out by putting this phrase by the party in power. How within a few months of their coming into power they suppressed our workers in general who continued to demand what Moulana Bhashani and other had demanded. The passed two years in jail, because the Muslim League party did not like that any other political party should struggle for the country. Is it democracy? Has not every citizen the right to form an association in democracy?

The democracy should come forward to save the country from chaos. You have seen these things within a sort span of ten years. You know that in all countries of the world, according to international law, workers of factories have the right to form trade unions for collective bargaining.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: So Mr. Mahmud Ali said.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, I am speaking of the Government, the party in power and still they would not allow trade unions to be formed, would not allow the workers to work in the country in their best interests. How can it be proved that it is a trade union if it Js not mentioned in the Constitution that you have the right to form trade unions? Unless there is a mention in the Constitution in respect of the formation of Political parties, how can they be allowed to form any political parties? Any time the party in power can say, Constitution has not laid down anything about political parties; therefore they cannot be formed.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান

There is one Communist Party in Pakistan. If the Communist party declares that they have no extra-territorial loyalty and they are loyal citizens of Pakistan, how can the Government declare it illegal? In fact, they have no right to do so. Sir, in this way, Sir, in this way, parties have been declared illegal and workers have been put behind the bars. Government has no sympathy for them.

If anybody goes against the fundamental rights provided by the State and if he has extraterritorial loyalty, Government can always take action against him; even hang him, but if any party declares categorically that it wants is fight for the interests of the country, it has the right to organize the party for the interest of the country, particularly when it says that its members are loyal citizens of the state. The Government has no right to declare them illegal.

Sir, they have tried their level best many times to declare our party illegal, but probably the opinion of the public is in our favour, they were unable to declare us illegal. There fore, Sir, you can realize the implications and consequences of this phraseology. This clause is very vague.

“Citizens shall have the right to form associations, trade-unions and political parties for the end which are not for bidden to individuals by Penal Law.”

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Honourable Prime Minister has said that in the Central Services there are 25 percent Bengalees. I question that statement and I will prove that is incorrect when the proper time comes. When Mr. Suhrawardy was the Law Minister he went to East Bengal and had discussions with us and at the instance of the Prime Minister and Mr. Gurmani he said that parity should be accepted in order to remove suspicion, It was pointed out that for eight years there was this fear between the two wings- one wing trying to dominate the other wing.

We, in the interest of the country, though that the misunderstanding must be removed and we sacrificed our representation from 56 percent to 50 percent. At Murree also there were several discussions between the various component units and the principle of parity in all respects was agreed upon. Here the Honourable Prime Minister reiterated again and again his promise of parity. I do not doubt his sincerity but I think he is helpless on account of the attitude of his party……… .

Sir, this fact must be realized that it costs an individual Rs. 200 to come from East Bengal to this place. If you recruit in East Bengal and give a job you will find a large number of people from East Bengal Comming forward. There are such a large number of M. As. and B. As. ……………. (Interruptions)

………………. Sir, my time has been spoiled.

here must be parity in all respects. We do not say that you implement parity at once. What we say is that unless and until parity is reached, Bangalees must get first preference. We must cooperate and there should not be a step motherly treatment met out to East Bengal. When you want a certain thing to be done, you agree to a thing and the next day you disagree.

There must be parity in all respects and not merely in the matter of representation. Take the case of business. Bangalees do not get one percent business. They come from East Bengal; stay in Hotels and spend Rupees ten or fifteen per day and go back without a licence. And this is all by way of request. However, all this cannot continue for all time. We do not offer the rats; we want to live together in Pakistan. But please do justice. If you fail to do, a time will come when the consequences may be disastrous.

With these words I request the Honourable Law Minister and the members of the United Front to accept this amendment-parity in all respects.

[ Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech in The Constituent Assembly’ of Pakistan, 4th Feb, 1956 ]

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