United Front (East Pakistan)

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The United Front (Bengali: যুক্ত ফ্রন্ট) was a coalition of political parties in East Pakistan which contested the 1954 East Bengal legislative elections. The coalition consisted of the Awami League, the Krishak Praja Party, the Ganatantri Dal (Democratic Party) and Nizam-e-Islam. The coalition was led by three major Bengali populist leaders- A K Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhashani. The election resulted in a crushing defeat for the Muslim League, with United Front parties securing a landslide victory and gaining 223 seats in the 309-member assembly. The Awami League emerged as the majority party, with 143 seats.[1][2]

A K Fazlul Huq of the Krishak Praja Party became Chief Minister of East Pakistan upon the victory of the United Front. The election propelled popular Bengali leaders into the Pakistani federal government, with leaders such as Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Abul Mansur Ahmed becoming key federal ministers. In the provincial government, young leaders such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Syed Shamsul Huq and Yusuf Ali Chowdhury rose to prominence.

The United Front demanded greater provincial autonomy for East Pakistan. It passed a landmark order for the establishment of the Bangla Academy in Dhaka. However, within months of assuming power, the newly elected government was dismissed by Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad, upon of accusations against A K Fazlul Huq of attempting secession.[3] The dismissal of the United Front was a key turning point in aggravating East Pakistan's grievances in the Pakistani union, and lead Maulana Bhashani to openly call for separation and independence in 1957, in his Salaam, Pakistan (Farewell, Pakistan) speech.[4]