A man carries a flower bouquet shaped like a boat, the election symbol of ruling Awami League, to greet a minister at the secretariat yesterday. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq
Taking over their charges yesterday, most newly appointed ministers asserted that the government would complete its five-year term as mandated by the constitution.
But talks with the BNP would also continue for reaching a consensus to resolve the political impasse, they said.
A number of them, however, hinted that an inclusive election could be held once there was a consensus with the BNP, which boycotted the January 5 polls allowing the Awami League to win an absolute majority.
The international community has been pressing for an inclusive election for the past few months.
The secretariat, which hardly saw any visitor over the past several weeks, took a festive look yesterday as some officials competed against each other to welcome the new ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers.
Since morning, officials and employees of different ministries were ready with flower bouquets. Party supporters and activists and well-wishers also crowded the secretariat throughout the day to greet the ministers, who were sworn in on Sunday.
Food and sweetmeats were distributed in a number of ministries.
“It looks as if the secretariat has got back its usual lively atmosphere today,” a health ministry official said sitting at the ministry's packed conference room. Officials were waiting for the new minister, Mohammad Nasim.
There was hardly any room at the conference hall of the LGRD and cooperatives ministry.
Talking to journalists at his ministry, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said: “The tenure of this government will be five years.”
He added that the dialogue with the BNP did not stop and was rather well underway.
Referring to the talks mediated by UN envoy Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Ashraf said they had nearly reached a consensus then. “But our words as negotiators were not final. There are powers above us."
According to Ashraf, also the AL general secretary, the BNP made a mistake by boycotting the election.
If election boycott becomes a culture, it will be impossible to hold any inclusive elections, he said, adding: “I will call on my party not to boycott the election ever."
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said they would try to complete the five-year tenure through good work.
Asked if the government would hold a mid-term election in case a consensus was reached, he said, "If there is a consensus, many things can happen."
About Ershad's Jatiya Party, Tofail said, "The Jatiya Party will play the role of the opposition party and criticise the government in a constructive way."
Mohammad Nasim said the atmosphere for talks would be created only if the BNP severed ties with the Jamaat and other organisations that created unrest.
He also thanked BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for lifting the countrywide blockade, which crippled the country for the last few months.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon said the talks would be hampered if the BNP and Jamaat continue to resort to violence.
He added the January 5 election was a battle, which the AL won.
On the possibility of mid-term polls, he said it would depend on what roles the BNP played.
However, Post and Telecommunications Minister Abdul Latif Siddique said, "The Awami League cannot reach a consensus with those who are autocratic, militant and criminals."
Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, state minister for home, warned that the government would go tough against the troublemakers.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said no law that goes against the interest of the people would be enacted.