Cabinet put through major reshuffle
With only a year left in her government’s tenure, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday reshuffled the cabinet in an apparent bid to reshape an administration plagued with a number of problems.
The shake-up came following the induction of seven new members in her council of ministers last Thursday. It saw nobody axed despite growing public demand for the poor performers to be dropped.
Hasina, who leads the AL-led alliance government now in crises stemming from issues like the stockmarket scam, graft allegations in the Padma bridge project and Hall-Mark loan fiasco, replaced Home Minister Shahara Khatun with newly appointed Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir.
Shahara seems fortunate. Despite controversies over her various remarks and near failure in improving law and order, she was awarded the posts and telecommunications, removing Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju.
The shuffle surprised many in the fastest growing sector.
Raju, who held the portfolio since Hasina took office in January 2009, was moved to the labour and employment ministry which had been under Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain for the past four years.
Mosharraf is now expatriate welfare and overseas employment minister.
Newly appointed Mujibul Hoque, who was a whip in parliament, will lead the railways ministry, created in January through splitting the communications ministry.
Veteran AL leader Suranjit Sengupta was earlier appointed rail minister. But he was made a minister without portfolio following the April midnight recovery of Tk 70 lakh from his assistant personal secretary. Obaidul Quader then filled the position.
Another surprise is the information and communication technology (ICT) ministry. Mostafa Faruque Mohammad, one of the newest faces in the cabinet, has been assigned the job.
This ministry was formed by dividing the science and ICT ministry and by placing Syed Abul Hossain at the helm.
Abul was removed from the communications ministry in December following the World Bank’s allegation of his link with a “conspiracy of corruption” in the bridge project.
Abul even had to quit the cabinet in July to meet a WB condition for its loan to the project. Interestingly, Mostafa Faruque is a former managing director of SAHCO, a company owned by Abul.
Through yesterday’s reshuffle, the food and disaster management ministry was bifurcated, with its boss Abdur Razzak given charge of food, and newly appointed Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali the disaster management and relief ministry.
The two ministries were merged into one during the past BNP-led government.
Newly appointed Hasanul Haq Inu, chief of AL ally Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, is now the new information minister. The post was never given to anybody who did not belong to a leading component of an alliance government.
Contacted over the phone, Inu said he would try his best to ensure the neutrality of the state-run Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar, traditionally misused as the government mouthpiece.
AL MP Abul Kalam Azad, who was information minister, will run the cultural affairs ministry.
Two newly made state ministers — Abdul Hyee and Omar Faruk Chowdhury — were sent to the ministries of fisheries and livestock, and industries respectively.
After a landslide victory in 2008 parliamentary polls, Sheikh Hasina formed her team comprising 23 ministers and eight state ministers, dropping most of the AL stalwarts and making surprising picks.
On January 24, 2009, she inducted six more fresh faces to the band — a minister and five state ministers — and reshuffled ten portfolios.
Hasina again on November 28, 2010 expanded her cabinet by inducting Suranjit Sengupta and Obaidul Quader.
Courtesy of The Daily Star