According to the Constitution of Bangladesh, Bangladeshi nationalism is formed by the unity and solidarity of the Bangladeshi people based on their cultural and linguistic heritage, and the revolutionary history of the Bangladesh Liberation War, through which the people successfully established the modern republic of Bangladesh. 
The historic region of Bengal has been renowned for its rich cultural and linguistic heritage. The territorial unity and population growth of the region ran parallel with the development of the Bengali language under the patronage of the Turko-Afghan rulers of the Sultanate of Bengal. Besides developing Bengali, their next most outstanding contribution to the growth of Bengali identity was evolving of a polity based on Hindu-Muslim partnership and cooperation. The trend was further strengthened under the Mughal Empire. During the reign of the Nawabs of Bengal in the 18th century, which was a remarkable example of Hindu-Muslim unity, Bengal showed all the marks of the progressive growth towards the formation of a nation state in the European model taking shape after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. With the defeat of Siraj-ud-Daula, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, by the British East India Company, Bengal lost its independence and its achievements during previous centuries in the fields of arts and crafts, manufactures and industries, education and administration were overturned under the impact of the colonial rule. However, gradually the British began fostering the European model of education in Bengal, the first province they captured in India. This led Bengal and especially Calcutta (present day Kolkata in West Bengal, India), the capital of British India during much of the Raj, to become the prime centre of modern culture, intellectual and scientific activities, politics and education in the Subcontinent. In what is described as the Bengal Renaissance, the introduction of Western culture, science and education led to a major transformation and development of Bengali society.
United Bengal Movement
In 1947, as the British colonial rulers agreed to grant India independence, the entire Subcontinent got embroiled in movements advocating either the partition of India (position of the Muslim League which wanted a separate homeland for Indian Muslims) or the independence of undivided India (the position of the Indian National Congress and Hindu radical groups). In midst of the increasing communal tensions, leading Bengali political leaders and nationalists led by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy of the Muslim League and Sarat Chandra Bose of the Congress, demanded the establishment of an independent, sovereign nation-state in Bengal. But the Muslim League, the Congress and the Hindu Maha Sabha gave an outright rejection to the proposal. Within months the plan was discarded as Viceroy Earl Mountbatten of Burma announced the partition of India along communal lines on 3 June 1947.
1947 Bengal Partition
In 1947, in line with the Partition of India, Bengal was partitioned between the Hindu majority west and Muslim majority East. East Bengal became part of the Islamic state of Pakistan while West Bengal became part of India. The partition was seen to have seen popular support amongst Bengali Muslims who suffered during the British Raj from the exploitation of Hindu zamindars.
Resurgence of Bengali nationalism
Pakistan was established a country with two wings, one in the east (the province of East Bengal) and one in the west (provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province). The two wings were separated by 1500 kilometres. The political, military and economic establishments in Pakistan emerged to be in the West. Many west Pakistanis considered Bengalis as racially inferior and discrimination was rife throughout civil services and the armed forces. Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had only visited the province once after independence.
During his visit, Jinnah declared that Urdu, spoken by the elite of the West and a language that was remote the people of the east, would be the sole national language of Pakistan. This would go down in East Bengal as unacceptable among the Bengalis who were not only fiercely proud of the rich literary heritage of the Bengali language, but also because Urdu was a language they hardly understood. The boiling discontent ultimately led to the Bengali Language Movement during which many students were killed by Pakistani security forces.
In 1956, Bengali nationalists led the Jukta Front coalition to power in the central government in Pakistan and Awami League leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. However within a year and a half of assuming office, Suhrawardy and his government were soon dismissed and eventually the Pakistan Army, led by the then army chief Ayub Khan, usurped power and proclaimed martial law. The most prominent Bengali politicians including A. K. Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Yusuf Ali Chowdhury were all banned from political life by the military regime of Ayub Khan. In addition, the regime suppressed the Bengali culture and banned the Robindro Shonggit, a powerful cultural instrument of the Bengali people.
Faced with the suppression of freedoms for Bengalis, East Bengal experienced the fiercely rising cultural and linguistic nationalism amongst the Bengalis of Pakistan. The emergent Bengali nationalism was further fuelled by the immense economic exploitation of the people of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani elite. Although East accounted for 80 percent of Pakistan export earnings, mainly due to the export of jute from East Pakistan, 60 percent of the earnings were spent on West Pakistan, especially on the military. With the growing discontent, Bengalis in Pakistan, led by the Awami League and its charismatic leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, launched massive civil disobedience and autonomy movements, notably the Six point movement. These movements are essentially seen as having played pivotal in promoting the already resurgent Bengali nationalism.
Independence of Bangladesh
President Ayub Khan resigned in the face of popular agitation across Pakistan in 1969. He handed over power to army chief Yahya Khan and martial law was once again proclaimed. In November 1970, the devastating Bhola cyclone crashed into the southern part of East Pakistan killing 500,000 people, making it the worst natural disaster of the 20th Century. The Pakistani government was very slow to respond to the disaster and the relief was mainly provided by foreign assistance, especially by the US Army.
Coupled with immense anger causes by this slow response to the cyclone and the already boiling nationalistic fervour in the province, the Awam League won a decisive victory in national elections held in December 1970. The victory was on such a scale that it gave them the power to form government on their own. But the Pakistani political and military establishment led Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto refused to allow the party to form a government on its own and Sheikh Mujib to become prime minister.
With the rapidly growing tensions, Bengalis across the province united to resist the Pakistani establishment. On 25 March 1971, the Pakistan Army launched the deadly Operation Searchlight which was followed by the nine-month long Bangladesh Liberation War. The Pakistani forces committed atrocities across the province and 10 million Bengalis fled across the border to India were the sympathetic Bengalis in West Bengal gave them refuge. An estimated 1 to 3 million people had been killed in the war.
The war ended with the eventual intervention of India and the subsequent defeat of Pakistan. On 16 December 1971, the Pakistani forces surrendered to the Mitro Bahini, the Indian armed forces and the Bengali rebels.
The Bangladesh Liberation War is seen as a defining point for Bengali nationalism as it united the people across the region.
- Bengali nationalism
- Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- Ziaur Rahman
- Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani
- Awami League
- Bangladesh Nationalist Party
- Mithun Roy Chowdhury, Politician of Bangladesh Nationalist Party BNP