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Death of a politician of integrity

The death of Syeda Zohra Tajuddin, a veteran politician and also presidium member of the ruling Awami League, the widow of the country’s founding prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed, is indeed a great loss for the nation. According to a New Age report on Saturday, she died in a hospital in the capital Dhaka on Friday at the age of 80.  She had suffered from various old-age complications for a few weeks. Moreover, she had to undergo a surgery recently for her broken hip joint in a hospital in New Delhi, India.
Zohra Tajuddin was the wife of Tajuddin Ahmed. What is more important is that coming out of her husband’s shadow, she created an identity of her own with her outstanding struggle throughout her life. In the first place, she joined politics at a time when women, particularly those belonging to Muslim families predominantly gripped by various conservative ideas in the then East Bengal, were hardly allowed to engage in outdoor activities, let alone politics. Taking the issue into account, it would, indeed, not be an exaggeration to say that she was among the pioneering female politicians of the land. It was, among others, her relentless cooperation, by shouldering the family burden single-handedly and otherwise, that helped Tajuddin to concentrate solely on rendering his duty to lead the nation to independence in 1971. After the brutal assassination of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and four other key leaders, including her husband, of the party in 1975, it was she who showed the courage to take the helm of the Awami League that then faced a huge debacle other than watching its popularity hitting the bottom because of various reasons. Not only that, she also played a crucial role in reorganising the party fighting against different odds, including enormous factionalism among its leaders and activists, and in the fight for democracy during the period.
Regrettably, however, like her husband, she was also denied due respects, especially within the Awami League, for the contribution mentioned earlier, for mysterious reasons. It is true that she was a presidium member of the Awami League in the last three committees of the party. But it is also true that the people who led the party in this period hardly encouraged her to become active in political activities. It is needless to overemphasise that if she had been given proper space to act within the party, the experiences she earned as a political leader committed to democracy and public interests in particular, not to mention the integrity she had and the sacrifices she made in different stages of her life, could have played a significant role in at least preventing the ongoing rot not only of the Awami League but also of political parties in general. Either way, she will continue to inspire people still struggling for their democratic and other rights in the country.

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