Rehman Sobhan, Chairman, CPD: Bangabandhu understood the common people and would always think of their welfare
Tofail Ahmed, Former Minister: Bangabandhu laid the foundations of present-day Bangladesh and its economy 50 years ago
Dr Kamal Hossain, Constitution Expert: As long as Bangladesh will exist, people will remember and respect Bangabandhu
Dr Mohammed Farashuddin, Former Bangladesh Bank Governor: Whatever Bangabandhu did, it was for the welfare of the Bangalis
M Syeduzzaman, Former secretary: Bangabandhu worked to alleviate the sufferings of the poor
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's contemporaries have said Bangladesh can be made a developed nation free from exploitation and discrimination by implementing the ideals and dreams of Bangabandhu.
They have said Bangabandhu's main dream was to establish an equal society by eliminating economic inequality and exploitation of workers, farmers, and disadvantaged groups.
He worked till his death to achieve that goal, they told a virtual discussion titled "Bangabandhuke Kache Theke Dekha: Remembrance by His Contemporaries", which was organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) on Wednesday.
Centre for Policy Dialogue Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan, who was a member of the Planning Commission from 1972 to 1974, said Bangabandhu understood the common people and would always think of their welfare.
"He [Bangabandhu] became the president because of their support. That is why he thought about creating a society where there would be no discrimination. He thought only then could he do something for society. He had good relations with both the rich and the poor," he said.
The noted economist said, "If he [Bangabandhu] saw someone going against him and disliking him, he did not intend to punish that person. He instead thought of befriending him. He believed that a good boss befriends enemies."
He said nowadays the tendency is that an enemy would remain so, and the more an enemy can be hurt, the better.
Bangabandhu preferred to remain neutral and accommodated opponents, he further said.
"He [Bangabandhu] had good relations with competitors. If he thought of someone as a friend, he held that impression for life."
Senior Awami League leader and former minister Tofail Ahmed said Bangabandhu had laid the foundations of present-day Bangladesh and its economy 50 years ago.
He said Bangabandhu had made far-reaching plans on everything, including agriculture, bank, insurance, power, and communication.
"What I learned from Bangabandhu shaped my life. I learned many things from him. He helped many people and I managed his funds. He was a very kind person."
He said Bangabandhu had always sided with the exploited people.
"I think the world has seen many great leaders, but Bangabandhu cannot be compared with anyone. He can only be compared with himself. He had a big heart and seeing others in sorrow would touch him. He would try to befriend even his enemies and would not want to hurt them.
"The world has never seen such a leader and there will never be anyone like him. I have seen his deep love and affection for people. There is no death of this great man. His great deeds have given him immortality," he added.
Constitution expert Dr Kamal Hossain said Bangabandhu was the undisputed leader of Bangladesh. He said he was very lucky to have Bangabandhu as his leader.
He further said as long as Bangladesh would exist, the people would remember and respect Bangabandhu.
"Bangabandhu made the country independent. A document signed by him says the people own this country. We achieved independence because we got an extraordinary leader like him."
He also said Bangabandhu's goal was to establish a society free from discrimination, but that had not been possible yet.
"One group is getting rich while the other is deprived of their basic rights. Bangabandhu fought for democracy all his life. Though there is democracy in our country, it is not complete. We should all unite to practice full democracy."
Bangabandhu's former private secretary and former governor of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Mohammed Farashuddin said Bangabandhu had not done anything that a Bangali would dislike.
"Whatever he [Bangabandhu] did, it was for the welfare of the Bangalis and for the country's progress. He is called Bangabandhu, and he was really a friend of the people," he said.
He also said Bangabandhu had done the very difficult job of fixing a broken economy after Bangladesh's independence.
"There was no food in stocks and no crop in fields because farmers had fought against the Pakistani forces. After independence, Bangabandhu set up the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
"Through TCB, he quickly arranged to import essential commodities, including food, sugar, edible oil, and kerosene. He then arranged to deliver those to people across the country at affordable prices, thus saving the country from a famine," he said.
Bangabandhu then rebuilt infrastructure, setting up the Bangladesh Bank and establishing diplomatic relationships with different countries to improve the economy, he further said.
"His [Bangabandhu's] foreign policy was – friendship to all and malice to none. I liked these measures more. He also introduced state allowance for the families of martyrs, freedom fighters, and those sustaining injuries in the liberation war," he added.
Former secretary M Syeduzzaman said Bangabandhu had asked him to set up the organogram of the Planning Commission in 1972, and the commission was then built accordingly.
He said rebuilding infrastructure after independence was an urgent and difficult task.
"The government led by Bangabandhu started reconstructing roads, bridges, railways, electricity supply, telephone system, and ports. These were mostly completed at the end of 1972," he said.
"Bangabandhu worked to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and arrange food, clothing, education, and employment for all in order to ensure development and build a society free from discrimination. He made efforts to build the economic structure of the state.
"Another task was to engage the private sector in development activities and industrialisation. In 1972, the highest investment limit in the private sector was set at Tk25 lakh, which was raised to Tk3 crore two years later."
Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, said Bangabandhu was a unique nationalist leader and his nationalist ideology was progressive.
"Bangabandhu was the undisputed leader of our liberation war," he added.
Planning Minister MA Mannan was the chief guest and Dr Binayak Sen, director-general of the BIDS, was the chair of the event.