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Chowdhury, Najma (1972) The politics and functioning of the East Bengal legislature, 1947-58. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Muslim League, the ruling party during 1947-54, had overwhelming majority in the legislature. The party unity, however, was somewhat artificially contrived as potential dissident leaders were apparently removed deliberately from the assembly and by-elections withheld following the defeat of ML candidate in 1949. Opposition to the League, projected by the latter as anti-Pakistani, continued to grow outside but had no means of being represented in the assembly which, consequently, did not adequately reflect the prevailing political complexion of the province. The official opposition in the assembly, the Pakistan National Congress, could not perform the role of a parliamentary opposition, primarily due to its political antecedents and the circumstances leading to independence in 1947. The United Front, an election-alliance of opposition parties contesting the Muslim seats, utterly defeated the ML in 1954 election. But the Front lacked elements of unity and stability and soon disintegrated into component units. As no party was then able to command absolute majority, a process of fragmentation, weak political alliances and party loyalties became a regular feature resulting in indecisive majorities and unstable ministries, which in turn led to further worsening of the process. This acute fragmentation in the assembly which was primarily due to prospects of, and disagreements over, share of power and political offices contributed to the over-all political process of fragmentation. Political parties during 1947-58 suffered from lack of organisational development. Mostly, the organisations remained structurally and functionally weak. Where a certain amount of development was attained, this did not however appear to be a sustained process, and the organisation became dormant and came to be dominated by the governmental wing or suffered through leadership and factional struggles. In the discharge of its functions during 1947-58 the performance of the legislature, though not impressive, was not entirely negligible and the government was subjected to some amount of accountability and control. The procedural rules, the performance of committees and the position of assembly secretariat reveal that the legislature did not have a strong institutional character. The dominance of the ML and the attitude of the government during 1947-54 did not allow the assembly to develop and assert itself. Fragmentation of parties, ministerial instabilities and the instances of suspension of parliamentary government during 1954-58 prevented the legislature from acquiring a strong and vigorous existence.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:09

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