Here we go; with the same old-fashion speeches by the new recruits in different ministries and little shuffled personalities with pledges to work hard with sincerity—which the people, except for those party supporters, never believe. Of the seven new faces—five of who are ministers—only Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and Hasanul Haque Inu are well known, while the others are either close aides of the prime minister and her family or little popular in their constituencies. Popularity does matter in governing an administration while facilitating the people with service, an argument refuted by the policymakers of the government. It did whatever it wanted to, disregarding people’s voices.
During this phenomenon for the last few days, something positive appeared—two senior politicians refused to accept the offers to become ministers. The offers originated in the government were made by the cabinet secretary, which embarrassed Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon. He alleged that it was not a due procedure, and that his party, an ally of the ruling grand alliance, was not discussed before taking such decision of inclusion of ministers in the cabinet this time as well as last time in November 2011. Awami League’s advisory council member Tofail Ahmed, however, cited controversial reasons behind not joining the cabinet. He said he was over-burdened and wanted to be beside the people. He also said he had no frustration—a lie—since we know he earlier refused a similar proposal in November 2011 when two of his like-minded colleagues (known as reformists) were made ministers. It seems that Tofail has been frustrated since January 2009 when the cabinet was formed with almost new faces, and the reformists were kept aside—both in the cabinet and the party positions.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina had started with 31 members—23 ministers and eight state ministers. On January 24, 2009, she included six more fresh faces—a minister and five state ministers—and reshuffled 10 portfolios. The last expansion came on November 28, 2011 by inducting Suranjit Sengupta, now minister without portfolio, and Obaidul Quader, minister for communications and railways. Former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain was axed and given the job as ICT minister that time. Abul, however, resigned in June this year under pressure of the World Bank for his alleged involvement in Padma bridge corruption.
To accommodate AH Mahmood Ali, the prime minister cut into two the food and disaster management ministry and gave the MP the latter part. Abdur Razzak is left with the food ministry only even though until now he is known to be controversy-free. The ministry Syed Abul left was with Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman until Mostafa Faruque Mohammad was selected. Faruque had been the managing director of SAHCO, the company owned by his predecessor Syed Abul which had allegedly demanded “bribes” from firms willing to work in the Padma bridge project.
Because of an unethical tradition in our politics, we see the former home minister is not sacked but given another important ministry—the post and telecommunications, and the new home minister labels his predecessor as the country’s most successful home minister after 1975! It goes totally in an opposite direction of the people’s minds who think Shahara Khatun was completely a failed minister for her inability to check extrajudicial killings by Rab and other law enforcing agencies, relentless killing of Bangladeshis in border by BSF, disappearances, murders of journalists; and most importantly impunity awarded to the criminals considering political identity and lax in executing law in many cases against the perpetrators. So we see the definition of performance “varies” in terms of interests!
Now Information Minister JASOD President Hasanul Haque Inu did not think twice to take the offer, for which he has since been facing opposition from the left-leaning politics. Actually, he had left his ethics and philosophies while joining the grand alliance and has been leading a capitalist living since then. Remarkably, Inu, Menon and Tofail—being with the government—were straightforward to criticise the government both from parliament and party discussions. His predecessor Abul Kalam Azad has been given the cultural affairs ministry only.
A very unpopular Mujibul Haque has been made the Railways Minister, the portfolio of which was being carried out by Communications Minister Obaidul Quader as an additional duty after Suranjit Sengupta had been dropped over a recruitment scam. God knows what the new minister can do to revitalise the railways sector—already in a dying situation because of widespread corruption, its lands grabbed and irregularities. Suranjit might have tried something, Quader too, to make the sector profitable, even though the prime minister recently said in parliament that this sector was dying because of World Bank prescriptions.
To accommodate AH Mahmood Ali, the prime minister cut into two the food and disaster management ministry and gave the MP the latter part. Abdur Razzak is left with the food ministry only even though until now he is known to be controversy-free. The ministry Syed Abul left was with Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman until Mostafa Faruque Mohammad was selected. Faruque had been the managing director of SAHCO, the company owned by his predecessor Syed Abul which had allegedly demanded “bribes” from firms willing to work in the Padma bridge project. According to the WB, it wanted to be the silent commission agent—an allegation which is not absurd.
Since Social Welfare Minister Enamul Hoque Mostofa Shaheed has been ill, the government preferred giving him a hand to assist—the state minister for cultural affairs Promod Mankin. The inclusion of state minister for fisheries and livestock Abdul Hyee seems to be for now use. It could be done to “please” someone or to fulfill the interest of a small number of people. To be more precise, the post could have been sold out—a common tradition visible in our politics since long. When Industries Minister Dilip Barua, a technocrat minister by dint of being a part of the grand alliance, has been controversial for his remarks on the political issues and failing to maintain the production and sale of sugar and fertilizer, and drawing foreign investments, inclusion of Omar Faruk Chowdhury as his deputy might work.
Now it’s a matter of greater interest for many to witness the progress in Bangladesh in the last one year tenure of the ruling government, which is already sunk in a quicksand.