Awami League President Sheikh Hasina yesterday formed government for the third consecutive term as she took oath as the prime minister leading a 47-member council of ministers.
This is her fourth term in office. With the tenure from 1996 to 2001 and three terms in a row since 2008, she heads for a record 20 years as the prime minister.
President Abdul Hamid administered the oath of office and oath of secrecy to Hasina and her new cabinet colleagues while Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam conducted the programme at the Bangabhaban Darbar Hall.
READ MORE: Heavyweights axed out
After the swearing-in was over, Hasina signed the oath of office and oath of secrecy.
Her new council of ministers includes 24 ministers, 19 state ministers and three deputy ministers.
She has dropped 34 of the previous cabinet, including AL heavyweights Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Mohammed Nasim and Matia Chowdhury, to induct 27 new faces and four former ministers into the council of ministers.
Of the 34 left out, 23 were full ministers, nine state ministers and two deputy ministers. Besides, Hasina chose two and dropped two of the four technocrat ministers who had resigned last month while forming the election-time government.
AL insiders say the prime minister picked new faces for the cabinet from the districts that had no representation in it for long.
Immediately after the cabinet members took oath, the Cabinet Division published a gazette distributing portfolios among them and the previous cabinet got abolished with this.
According to the gazette, the PM herself is in charge of the Cabinet Division, Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Defence,
Armed Forces Division, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, and Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
Guests at the jam-packed glittering Durbar Hall included the prime minister's family members including younger sister Sheikh Rehana; former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda, judges of the Supreme Court, MPs, other political leaders, chiefs of the three services, members of the diplomatic corps, journalists, distinguished personalities and top civil and military officials.
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, who announced himself as the opposition leader in parliament, and his wife Raushan Ershad were not present at the ceremony.
Party insiders said Ershad couldn't make it due to illness. Five JP MPs including Fakhrul Imam, however, joined the programme.
Attired in a sky-blue jamdani saree, Hasina was looking confident. All gave her a standing ovation when she entered the Darbar Hall at 3:30pm. Minutes later President Hamid got in.
The ceremony began with the recitation from the holy Quran.
Hasina, elder daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, took oath at 3:40pm pledging to preserve, protect and defend the national constitution and state sovereignty.
Later, the ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers took oath.
At the end of oath-taking ceremony, the president and the prime minister exchanged greetings with the new cabinet members and distinguished guests.
The PM exchanged pleasantries with the guests in the open field beside the Darbar Hall. She spent around an hour there.
Thousands thronged the Rajuk intersection to have a glimpse of the prime minister when she was on her way back home from the Bangabhaban.
The AL-led grand alliance achieved a landslide victory in the 11th Jatiya Sangsad election on December 30, bagging 288 seats. AL alone won 257 seats while opposition alliance Jatiya Oikyafront got seven.
After taking oath, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said members of the new cabinet must deliver as per the election manifesto of the party to retain their positions in the cabinet.
“The new council of ministers has been formed aiming at fulfilling the pledges made by the prime minister in the election manifesto. She has formed a new cabinet which is capable of implementing the election manifesto,” he told reporters.
"Our prime minister is very serious about performances of cabinet members. Her decision will be strict in this regard. Those who will fail to deliver will lose their positions.
“Implementation of the election manifesto is one of our major challenges.”
He added: "The people of the country have taken the new cabinet positively. The cabinet involving new and old faces will be more dynamic.
“No one will be able to remain a minister without performing his/her duty with upmost sincerity. The formation of new cabinet will not create any internal feud in Awami League as there is no discontent over its formation.”
Responding to another question about dropping some senior leaders from the cabinet, the AL leader said, "It's not exclusion as it can be seen as changes in responsibilities."
Mentioning that the government and the party are two separate entities, he said senior leaders will now work for making the party well-organised.
“We should not say that they [senior leaders] were left out from the new cabinet… Their responsibilities just have been changed. They should concentrate on the party activities.”
Asked about not including anyone from allies, Quader said it cannot be said that leaders of the 14-party alliance won't be in the cabinet in the future.
He said the alliance partners in the grand alliance will support the new cabinet although they are not its members. The decision of Jatiya Party to perform as opposition party in parliament is good for democracy, he added.
After taking oath as information minister, Dr Hasan Mahmud said he would consider providing state assistance to good media outlets that fail to perform smoothly due to various obstacles.
"I'll look into how the state can assist the credible and good media houses in the truest sense -- they may be newspapers or televisions that can't do good work for various barriers," he told reporters after taking oath as minister.
Shahab Uddin, new minister for environment, told this correspondent that his first priority will be to tackle the adverse effects of climate change.
The new minister for health, Jahid Maleq, told The Daily Star that his first priority will be to improve quality of service in public hospitals and implement the ministry's ongoing development projects.
Sheikh Hasina along with members of her new cabinet is scheduled to visit the National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar this morning, party sources said.