Monaem Sarker: The bright face of a leading reclusive politician in Bangladesh

He played a vital role during Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971.

7 mins read
Monaem Sarker with his spouse [File Photo]

As an active worker in the progressive political movement of Bangladesh, the contribution of this humble man was undaunted. His diverse experiences, fighting skills, honesty and determination are the only support for his progressive thinking and has dedicated to the welfare of the common people still has an undying love for Bangabandhu, the architect of Bangladesh, the father of the nation, his adage is the last path of life and his firm belief that he will continue to work till the last day of his life to fulfill Bangabandhu’s dream.

A giant star cloistered politician, a bang-up researcher, a fecund writer, and a fine-grained gentleman with a pleasing in appearance as he has been, Monaem Sarker is a Cumilla native aged now 79 plus, was born on March 30, 1945. His political life history spans for about 6 decennaries.

With an M.Sc. degree in Applied Physics with credit from Dhaka University in 1967, Monaem Sarker best-loved the life of a whole-souled political worker being pulled in by the left-winger politics. He manifested notable role in the politics of the-then East Pakistan students’ Union, Communist Party, NAP and afterwards Bangladesh Awami League.

He played a vital role during Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971. After the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975, he worked very hard to form vox populi pointed to rebuilding the values and ideals of independence as pursued by Bangabandhu.

Readers may find a patriotic Monaem Sarker about whom Bangladesh’s famed novelist and short story writer Shawkat Osman wrote on January 17, 1979, “The search for life mingled so homogeneously with patriotism that Monaem Sarker could not stay no more in his own country after the death of Bangabandhu. Here (Kolkata), he as if became the guardian of all political refugees. He kept himself engaged in ways knew no bounds for collecting funds and to keep the political activities remain free flowing. During his life in exile in India, he developed a deep personal relationship with political stalwarts there and different secret leaflets, booklets were published at his initiative to bring back Awami League to power.

He also had a special role in bringing out various weeklies, biweeklies and monthlies. At those times, the Brajrakantho from Kolkata, Banglar Dak, Sonar Bangla, Sun Rise, et al, from London were brought out to establish public opinion at abroad in favour of pro-Bangladesh and pro-liberation forces.

Getting back in the country in 1979, he played a unique role in forming the Bangabandhu Parishad. He joined Bangladesh Awami League in the same year at the inspiration of the political orientation of Bangabandhu. He pioneered in the formation of 10-Party and 15-Party alliances against autocratic military governments of Zia and Ershad in preparing agenda and conducting movements.

In establishing common platform of the three alliances for preparing roadmap of movement, he consecrated himself very profoundly. Keeping himself in solitude, Monaem Sarker has been working as a pivotal power of all democratic and progressive movements of the country. His activities in the fields of economics, social and cultural movements are also long-familiar and popular characteristic characterized by or advocating or based upon the principles of democracy or social equality.

Besides Bangladesh Awami League politics, he also took intensive part in the fields of cultural and literary firmament, being one of the founders of the Udichi. He is a popular columnist and writer. He edited Bangabandhu Biography in two volumes published by Bangla Academy.

He authored 116 books mainly on political and social affairs and got numerous awards from different organizations of which Bangla academy “Honorary fellowship 2013” is remarkable. He is now the Chairman of The Bangladesh Foundation for Development Research (BFDR), a stellar research organization which was established in 1996 to carry out research on Bangla Language, Liberation War, Culture, Formation of the Bangalee nation, state, et al. Under his leadership BFDR produced 10 DVDs and VCDs which are available in the BFDR website.

Monaem Sarker remains an iconic figure of Southeast Asian politics and an historical advocate for the development and sovereignty of the Global Southeast Asia. He is a shining example of what it means to be a versatile talent. Dispersion of talent in debates, recitals, art, other cultural activities and has remained for decennaries one of the most definitive observers on Bengalis, Bangladesh, Bangabandhu and the Bangladesh political world – as well as a historian of the tumultuous events of 1952, 1962, 1969, 1970 and 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War in which he mightily participated.

Calling him a political icon, we must say he has massively participated in enriching intellectual life with his books, articles, political and historical studies. Monaem Sarker has always described himself as a politician, first and foremost. But his unique role as a participant in, and a chronicler of, Bangladesh’s history drew politicians of all stripes — liberals, nationalists, et al.

He has remained the intellectual godfather of a set of ideas and a period in history that many perceive him to be one of progressives, dignified and national prestige figures. Career as an author spanning for more than half a century and his access to regional and international audiences has been greatly enhanced by his regular appearances on the seminars, symposiums, et al.

A well-connected politician, commentator, and master propagandist, Sarker has crafted the message of Bangabandhu and has been defending his legacy long after his death. His books are consistent best read in the Bengali world, and his political analysis is accorded respect. His opinion is being sought in hour-long indoor interviews and behind closed door meetings in the corridors of power. His influence has endured the epochs of long-reigning by PM Sheikh Hasina, her political struggles, and political dead cert.

A giant politician who became a confidant of Sheikh Hasina. He has remained relevant long after Bangabandhu died, respected for his wide network of international contacts and extraordinary analytical skills. He can be described as “the nation’s authentic memory.”

Established a distinctive political school that combined political analysis with a magnificent writing style. He is widely regarded as the books of record in the Bangladesh world. His voice is full of patriotism, his mind like a razor, that of a veteran fighter, writer, sage, perhaps the most important living witness and historian of modern Bangladesh.

He is a man of such eloquence, such energy, with such a vast memory, that men and women who are younger – a quality he much admires, and which he has won because of his humane attributes.

This veteran Bangladesh’s politician is best privately known as Sheikh Hasina’s taciturnly mouthpiece. He grew up as a talented young person liked and admired by all around him. Monaem Sarker, the legendary Bangladesh’s politician, embarked on his political journey since his school days with a unique blend of academic pursuit and passion for social relations.

He carries the image of being a doer, has won praise from both within his party and outside. He continues to be a significant power centre within the ruling establishment who has spearheaded the government’s foreign policy agenda, which has increasingly been getting endorsement by the concerned quarters.

A quintessential backroom player, he will continue to work to ke­e­p the administrative machinery of the government humming. He could take a long-term view of the developmental initiatives that could help Bangladesh in decades ahead, not necessarily thinking in terms of the next election only. In his long political life, it would be impossible to find someone who did not like him as a person, ideological orientations being another matter.

Despite no official position, Sarker is a keen follower of Bangabandhu’s people’s welfare-oriented politics. In person, Sarker comes across as an effective administrator, a proud Bengali nationalist, and a committed Bangladesh. He also is a policy maven—introverted, precise, and even passionate about the most technical of subjects. On almost all of these issues, his Bangladesh is pushing and following, Bangladesh.

As a stripling, he was comprehending the national developments to realise how tough a task it is for the nation to re-establish itself on the global stage, and simultaneously give its people what they needed to lead a dignified life. He understood the pulse of the people and has been blessed with the gift of a flawless research-based oratory that touched the hearts of the listener, through his speeches. He endeared himself to the people, stuck dexterously to his ideological moorings in thick and thin.

No one has ever seen any sense of arrogance in the Monaem Sarker, such friendly and hospitable people are rare in our society. Our society needs many more virtuous and unselfish people like Monaem Sarker, only then Bangladesh will move forward faster.

He cherishes the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons of all religions live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which he hopes to live for, and to see realised. It is an ideal for which he is prepared to die.

Monaem Sarker continues to be held in high regard by all who know him and he will be remembered for his grace, leadership, kindness, contributions towards Bangladesh’s betterment.

He has the gift of tenderness of heart, and this was his art of winning the hearts of people. He is affectionate and empathetic. Adversities could never demoralise him, rather these occasions gave him greater determination to succeed. He accepted challenges. For, party management is an art and not a craft as practised by the new generation of most politicians. His research-oriented books indicate his concern for the nation and the people. Most of his time is spent thinking over politics, but I never found him desolate, or withdrawn.

His strength and beauty, the grace and dignity of his bearing, the dark light of his eyes, his imposing appearance, and from the moment he began to speak, the splendid speech with his rich deep voice enthralled the vast audience. The thought of this warrior prophet of Bangladesh left a deep mark upon Bangladesh. Bangladesh thus have had the blessing of directly hearing a person of the stature of a great politician, radiating purity, compassion, and love.

Clearly, there have been very few politicians who have been able to match the respect and authority that he has been commanding.

He was a well-respected politician who is an out-of-the-box thinker and speaker. He approached topics from a unique point of view which made us to redefine our lives, personally and politically. Address is a cornerstone of Bangladesh history. His speech rallied a nation and set created a foundation of Bengali idealism for future generations.

These speeches lift hearts in dark times, give hope in despair, refine the characters of people, inspired brave feats, give courage to the weary, honour the dead, and change the course of history.

It is a fitting gift to Bangladesh and a reminder that politics can be attuned to be sensible, subtle and constructive, the way Monaem Sarker has been doing it since long.

Big salutes to Monaem Sarker. He is an exemplary leader who believes in what he wants to do, subscribe to what Awami League wants to do, and faithfully following it through. That, in a nutshell, he is a perfect gentleman politician in giving way to Bangladesh-styled leadership replenishing.

Anwar A. Khan

Anwar A. Khan is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

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