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Ershad, from soldier to ruler

  • Published at 02:55 pm July 14th, 2019
File photo: Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad addresses a press briefing at his President Park residence in Baridhara, Dhaka on Thursday, December 27, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

The rise of Ershad marks several times of uncertainty, starting from becoming deputy army chief under another military ruler Ziaur Rahman

With the demise of Hussain Muhammad Ershad, one of the most important chapters of Bangladesh politics, after its independence in 1971, has come to an end. 

The rise of Ershad marks several times of uncertainty, starting from becoming deputy army chief under another military ruler Ziaur Rahman. 

His desire to take over power came to light during a time of uncertainty after the assassination of BNP founder Zia. 

He was given the name Palli Bandhu for amending local administration, as he had introduced the upazila system in 1984, but was criticized as a dictator. 

He was also thrown to jail several times for corruption and other charges. 

The uncertainty continued even after his fall in 1990. 

Although he was identified as a military dictator and a threat to democracy, he was elected several times as a member of parliament while in jail (1991, 1996). 

The king of controversy in Bangladesh politics, Ershad was criticized for his activities during his service period and political life. The criticism continued around his family life as well.

Also read- Ershad passes away

At the end of his life, he predicted that he might die soon and took several steps to give Jatiya Party (JaPa), his brainchild, a proper direction so that it remained strong after his demise. He gave directions to his party to choose their new leader, he distributed his property and he formed a trust.   

He was admitted to Combined Military Hospital on June 22 and on June 29 after his condition suddenly deteriorated. He died at the hospital on Sunday. 

Ershad's political journey 

Born on February 1, 1930, in the Koch Bihar district of West Bengal, Ershad was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1952.

After his repatriation from Pakistan to independent Bangladesh, Ershad was appointed adjutant general of the Bangladesh Army in 1973, and later in December 1978, during the rule of Ziaur Rahman, Ershad was promoted to the post of the Chief of Army Staff.

Amid political turmoil after the assassination of Zia by an army cabal, Ershad took over state power from then-President Abdus Sattar on March 24, 1982, promulgating martial law while declaring himself commander-in-chief of the armed forces, a constitutional post held by the elected president.

Also read- President, PM mourn Ershad’s death

Ershad formed Jatiya Party (JaPa) in 1986, and was elected president for a term of five years the same year through the third parliamentary election, triggering huge protests by other political parties.

In the face of a strong opposition movement, Ershad dissolved parliament on December 7, 1987.

Amid a fierce combined movement by opposition parties, he was finally forced to step down on December 6, 1990.

The JaPa chief was later accused of corruption as well as other offences, and was kept confined to prison.

He was given the title "Palli Bandhu" (Friend of Villages) by his followers for his role in developing rural areas during his rule.

On May 15, 2011, the Supreme Court announced that the martial law introduced by this military leader had been illegal.

Also read- Ershad to be buried in Dhaka on Tuesday

On January 18, 2016, the JaPa chairman tried to introduce his brother GM Quader as his successor by making him party co-chairman, which was foiled by the leaders close to his wife Raushon Ershad, current deputy leader of the opposition in parliament

Amid strong resentment from the party, the former president removed Quader from the post of the deputy opposition leader on March 23, nominating his wife Raushon for the post.

A maverick former military leader, known for frequently changing his decisions, Ershad reinstated his younger brother GM Quader as party chairman in his absence on April 6 after nominating his wife Raushon for the post on March 23.

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