The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) (Bengali transliteration: বাংলাদেশ আওয়ামী লীগ; translated from Urdu: Bangladesh People’s League); (often simply called as Awami League or AL) is one of the two major political parties of Bangladesh. It is the country’s current governing party, after winning a majority in heavily criticized 2014 parliamentary elections where the majority of seats were uncontested.
The All Pakistan Awami Muslim League was founded in Dhaka, the capital of the Pakistani province of East Bengal, in 1949 by Bengali nationalists Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, Shawkat Ali, Yar Mohammad Khan, Shamsul Huq, and later Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy who went on to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Pakistan Awami Muslim League was established as the Bengali alternative to the domination of the Muslim League in Pakistan and over centralisation of the government. The party quickly gained massive popular support in East Bengal, later named East Pakistan, and eventually led the forces of Bengali nationalism in the struggle against West Pakistan’s military and political establishment.
The party under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, led the struggle for independence, first through massive populist and civil disobedience movements, such as the Six Point Movement and 1971 Non-Cooperation Movement, and then during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
After the emergence of independent Bangladesh, the Awami League won the first general elections in 1973 but was overthrown in 1975 after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The party was forced by subsequent military regimes onto the political sidelines and many of its senior leaders and activists were executed and jailed. After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the Awami League emerged as one of the principal players of Bangladeshi politics.
Amongst the leaders of the Awami League, five have become the President of Bangladesh, four have become the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and one became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has headed the party since 1981. The student wing of the party is the Bangladesh Chhatra League