12:00 AM, January 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:20 AM, January 06, 2019

Cabinet Berths: Hasina keeps AL ranks guessing

Who would become a minister? It was a discussion that dominated tea stalls, bazaars and even Awami League offices yesterday.

The newly elected AL lawmakers were guessing and speculating as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina alone knows who would get a chair at her table.

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The MPs were talking to each other in person and over phone. They even asked journalists for hints and made statements about why they should be picked.

Supporters of some MPs, who see themselves fit to be ministers, organised human chains in districts to promote their leaders.

The Jatiya Party's decision to be the main opposition in parliament came as a boon for some alliance lawmakers. It has opened up more cabinet seats.

JP Chairman HM Ershad yesterday wrote to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury asking her to take necessary measures so that he and JP co-chairman GM Quader could act as the leader of the opposition and deputy leader of the opposition in parliament.

Despite it being the weekend, the cabinet division had a hectic day yesterday to complete necessary procedure for the ministers' swearing in to be held at the Bangabhaban around 3:30pm tomorrow. 

As part of the preparations for the oath taking ceremony, the division yesterday asked the Paribahan Pool to ready at least 40 SUVs for taking the new ministers to the Bangabhaban, sources said.

Medical and fitness tests of 40 drivers were also completed, they said.

Hasina did not hold any official meeting with her party's high-ups to discuss her probable cabinet. She did not even say how many ministers would her cabinet have, AL insiders said. 

They mentioned names of a few who could be in Hasina's mind. AL presidium members Faruk Khan and Abdur Razzaque, AL president's adviser Salman F Rahman, former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin, former IGP Nur Mohammad, AL leader Dipu Moni, Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, AKM Abdul Momen, former BSMMU vice-chancellor Pran Gopal Dutta were among them.  

JP DEVELOPMENT

In the letter to the Speaker, Ershad said, “According to the election results, JP got 22 seats and has emerged as the second largest party and therefore became the main opposition party.”

“Under these circumstances, the party has made the decision that, I, Hussain Mohammad Ershad (Rangpur-3), will act as the opposition leader and party's co-chairman Golam Mohammad Quader (Lalmonirhat-3) will act as the deputy leader of the opposition,” Ershad in the letter said. 

On Friday, going against his party's parliamentary body's decision, Ershad announced that JP would be the main opposition and that he would be the leader of the opposition.

JP's parliamentary party on Thursday unanimously decided to join the AL-led alliance government.

In a statement sent to the press, Ershad yesterday nominated JP Secretary General Moshiur Rahman Ranga as the opposition chief whip.

GM Quader, younger brother of Ershad, yesterday said his party would be a strong opposition.

“Instead of resorting to acts of violence, we want to be a strong opposition in the House and raise our voice for the country and its people,” he said.

While addressing a press conference at Ershad's Banani office, Quader said, “There will be no Jatiya Party lawmaker in the new cabinet as it wants to play a positive role in the House for the sake of the country.”

Quader said Ershad was quite well and he would take oath immediately after talking to the Speaker.


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