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Bangladesh: Awami League
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Party Politics > Awami League


The Awami League, which was consistently split during the Zia regime, underwent further turmoil in the aftermath of Ershad's March 1982 coup before achieving a new level of unity. In the 1982-83 period, there were two main groups within the Awami League, one headed by Hasina as president and another headed by Abdur Razzak as secretary general. In October 1983, Abdur Razzak left the party to form the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League. This group was modeled on the national party of the same name that briefly held power before Mujib's death in 1975. Hasina proved to be a formidable politician and retained absolute control over the Awami League through the 1980s, becoming the major leader of the political opposition in Bangladesh. For several years, the Awami League headed a fifteen-party alliance, but its decision to participate in the 1986 parliamentary elections alienated some leftist parties. This development left the Awami League at the head of an eight-party alliance whose membership was in a state of flux but at one point included the Bangladesh Communist Party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, the Gana Azadi League (two factions), the National Awami Party, the Samajbadi Dal (Socialist Party), and the Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (Sultan Raja Faction).

The Awami League traces its descent from the party of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and in the late 1980s it continued to advocate many of the socialist policies of the early 1970s. The Awami League condemned the denationalization and militarization of Bangladesh that occurred after 1976, and it leaned toward a pro-Soviet stance. These policies often made it the target of opponents, even those within the alliance, who, in linking its policies to a pro-Indian program, easily attacked it with nationalist rhetoric. The Awami League has been the most outspoken of the opposition parties against the role of the military in government, and in the late 1980s it was doubtful whether military leaders would allow it to achieve a large degree of political influence without a direct military response. Nevertheless, despite the opposition of the Ershad regime and the military, the Awami League has remained one of the few parties with a substantial following throughout the country and with action wings in rural areas. In 1988 its student wing was the Bangladesh Chhatro League (Bangladesh Students League), and its workers' front was the Jatiyo Sramik League (National Workers' League).

Data as of September 1988

Last Updated: September 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bangladesh was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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