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Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Hasina unveils her surprise teamDhaka, Jan 6 (bdnews24.com) — Prime minister Sheikh Hasina sprang surprises as she named her 31-strong team on Tuesday, dropping almost her party's entire policymaking presidium from the cabinet.

In a move termed revolutionary by some in a 1000-strong audience at the Bangabhaban swearing-in, Hasina appointed Dr Dipu Moni foreign minister, and another street veteran advocate Sahara Khatun home minister.

Of Hasina's 31 ministers, as many as 28 are newcomers to the corridors of power.

Twenty-four of them will hold cabinet rank, while the rest eight will be junior ministers.

Party stalwarts such Amir Hossain Amu, Sajeda Chowdhury, Abdur Razzaq, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Abdul Jalil, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim—all MPs and presidium members—were left out.

Apparently no one complained. "I am fine. I don't see any problem," said Tofail, after the swearing-in ceremony, officiated by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

"I have no clue (about what happened)," said grand alliance hopeful Hasanul Huq Inu of JSD, widely tipped to become a cabinet minister.

Workers Party's Rashed Khan Menon, another grand alliance contender, was also among those who missed out.

"This is revolutionary," said a leading editor, of the new team of ministers.

"I think she overdid a bit ... too many new, untested faces," said another senior editor, who asked not to be named.

Khulna trade union leader Munnujan Sufian was made a state minister.

Only three survived from Hasina's 1996-2001 administration—Motia, party spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam and Syed Abul Hossain.

Trusted Motia, only presidium member to have made it, will be agriculture minister and confidant Syed Ashraf, son of 1971 war-time acting president Syed Nazrul Islam, will helm the local government.

AMA Muhit is finance minister, an office he had held way back in the 1980s.

Liberation war hero AK Khandker returned to the cabinet as planning minister after nearly 20 years, having served in the same ministry in the 1980s.

Education was given to former communist leader Nurul Islam Nahid.

Abul Kalam Azad, a Jamalpur MP, became information minister.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, father in law of Hasina's daughter Saima Wajed, got two ministries—labour and employment and expatriate welfare.

Dilip Barua became industries minister.

Tanjim Ahmed, better known as Sohel Taj, son of the Mujibnagar government prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed, was made state minister for home.

GM Quader, a Jatiya Party presidium member and brother of General HM Ershad, will be civil aviation and tourism minister.

Law went to Hasina's attorney barrister Shafiq Ahmed, and telecommunications to Raziuddin Ahmed Razu.

Shafiq and two others—Dilip Barua and AL's science secretary Yafes Osman (state minister)—are the ones filling up the technocrat quota.

Physician AFM Ruhul Haq will steer health, retired lt col Faruq Khan commerce, Abdul Latid Siddiqui jute and textiles, Ramesh Chandra Sen water resources.

Enamul Huq Mustafa Shahid of Habiganj was put in charge of social welfare.

Rezaul Karim Hira got land, Afsarul Amin shipping, Abdul Latif Biswas fisheries and livestock,

During the high tea that followed the oath-taking at the Darbar Hall, some new ministers even needed introduction to the media.

Those who became ministers for the first time are: Abdul Latif Siddiqui, Raziuddin Raju, Sahara Khatun, Khandker Musharraf Hossain, Rezaul Karim Hira, Abul Kalam Azad, AFM Ruhul Haq, Afsarul Amin, Abdur Razzaq, Enamul Haq Mostafa Shahid, Nurul Islam Nahid, Abdul Latif Biswash, retired lt col Faruq Khan, GM Quader (JP), Ramesh Chandra Sen, Dilip Barua (Samyabadi Dal/technocrat), Shafiq Ahmed (technocrat) and Dipu Moni.

Dipankar Talikdar aside, the other state ministers are all new to the job. Talukdar who was a state minister for Chittagong Hill Tract Affairs in the 1996-2001 AL government will return to the ministry again.

The other state ministers are: Mostafizar Rahman Fizar, retired captain Tajul Islam, Tanjim Ahmed Sohel, Dr Hasan Mahmud, Munnuzan Sufian, Ahad Ali Sarker and architect Yafes Osman.

Retired captain Tajul Islam was given liberation war affairs, Hasan Mahmud foreign affairs, Fizar forest and environment, Sufian labour, Ahad Ali Sarker youth and sports, Yafes Osman science and ICT.

The prime minister retained energy and power, housing and public works, women's affairs, religious affairs, armed forces division.

Apart from the prime minister, there are four women ministers: Motia Chowdhury, Sahara Khatun, Dipu Moni and Munnuzan Sufian.

Source: bdnews24.com.

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