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The Ganatantri Dal was East Pakistan's first secular political party. It was founded on 19 January 1953 by Mahmud Ali with Haji Mohammad Danesh, a veteran communist activist of the Tebhaga movement as its first president. The party was the first to open its doors to non-Muslims on an equal footing and demanded a secular constitution. The Ganatantri Dal called for an independent foreign policy and opposed the League's pro-west stance. The party manifesto included the demand for the abolition of feudalism without any compensation, the release of political prisoners, secession from the Commonwealth, nationalization of jute trade, equal rights for women and minorities in social, political and economic spheres, and abolition of visa system between Pakistan and India.
|President||Haji Mohammad Danesh (1953)|
Mahmud Ali (1954)
|Founded||January 19, 1953|
Mahmud Ali later became its president and formed a coalition with the United Front which swept the 1954 provincial elections in East Bengal.
It had its own flag, half red and half blue. "The red, with a symbol of a plough on it, stands for progress and agrarian economy. The blue, with three stars, indicates peace and alliance with national bourgeoisie, working classes and the peasantry."
- Umar, Badruddin (2004). The Emergence of Bangladesh: Class Struggles in East Pakistan (1947-1958). Oxford University Press. p. 233. ISBN 0-19-579571-7.
At the conference of political workers in January 1953 in which the Ganatantri Dal was formed, Haji Danesh of Dinajpur, a veteran communist and peasant leader of Tegagha fame, became its president with Mahmud Ali of Sylhet as the general secretary ... it was the first non-communal political party in East Pakistan.
- Umar, Badruddin (2004). The Emergence of Bangladesh: Class Struggles in East Pakistan (1947-1958). Oxford University Press. p. 339. ISBN 0-19-579571-7.
A meeting of the Supreme Council of the Ganatantri Dal was held at Barisal from 21 to 23 July 1957, presided over by Mahmud Ali ... they finally decided to liquidate the Ganatantri Dal as a separate organization and merge it with the new party.