Mahbubul Alam Hanif is apparently not in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s good graces anymore. He was removed from the post of her special assistant following an unusual exchange of words between him and Hasina two weeks ago during a grassroots meeting.
“The government cancelled his contractual appointment and a GO [government order] has been issued today [yesterday] to this effect,” Senior Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder of the Ministry of Public Administration told The Daily Star.
Hanif, also joint general secretary of ruling Awami League, claimed that he had asked the prime minister to relieve him of his duties as he wanted to take part in the next elections from a constituency in Kushtia.
“And the prime minister accepted my application,” he claimed.
Sources in the party said Hasina had removed Hanif on October 11 following an exchange of words at a grassroots meeting on October 9 at Gono Bhaban over Hanif’s running in the next parliamentary elections.
At the meeting, the Awami League chief told Hanif that since he holds a government post and enjoys salaries and other facilities, he would not be eligible to contest the parliamentary elections as per the Representation of the People’s Order (RPO).
Hanif then told the premier that he had consulted the Election Commission about his running for parliament and the EC told him that since he was the special assistant to the prime minister, he could run.
She then told Hanif that the EC would cancel his nomination ahead of the elections due to restrictions imposed by the RPO.
A seemingly irritated prime minister told Hanif that he gets honour for being the special assistant to her and that he would have to face harsh reality if he quits the position.
Hanif argued with Hasina and said he was ready to quit his post.
The day after the exchange of words, Hasina called two senior secretaries of the Bangladesh Secretariat and asked them to bring in necessary files regarding the appointment of Hanif as her special assistant, sources said.
The sources added that the prime minister looked into the file on October 11 and signed the papers the same night initiating the process of Hanif’s removal from the post.
Sobhan Sikder said it took time to issue the government order as the files of all contractual appointments go up to the president and then come back to them.
The prime minister appointed Hanif as her special assistant on April 6, 2009. The appointment surprised many Awami League leaders as most of the party grassroots knew him little.
Being in Hasina’s good graces, little-known Hanif became the first joint general secretary of the party in July 2009. Hasina deprived many other eligible party leaders while appointing him as the joint general secretary.
Since then, Hanif played an influential role in intra-party politics as Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam was mostly inactive.