12:00 AM, January 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:40 PM, January 03, 2019

Hasina may spring cabinet surprise

New faces likely to replace 'tainted' ones

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who led her party to a landslide victory in the national election, may come up with a surprise by inducting new faces into the cabinet, likely to be formed on Sunday.

On the other hand, she may exclude some current cabinet members with “tainted images” for their "controversial roles” during the last five years in power, said party insiders.

Hasina may pick the new faces with clean images to present the country a new leadership, they said.

President Abdul Hamid will appoint members of the new cabinet on the PM's advice and administer their oath at the Bangabhaban.

According to ruling Awami League sources, some leaders who did not get party nomination for the December 30 polls may find themselves in the cabinet as a “reward”. Besides, the cabinet is likely to have three to four technocrat ministers.

The Daily Star talked with several AL leaders about the formation of the next cabinet. But the PM did not officially discuss anything about it with them, they said.

Hasina is now leading a 49-member cabinet comprising 30 ministers, 17 state ministers and two deputy ministers. Four technocrat ministers resigned last month.

The AL sealed victory in the national polls for the third consecutive time, securing a two-thirds majority. Out of the 298 seats, the AL-led alliance won in 288 and of them the ruling party itself got 259 seats.

According to AL leaders, Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, also former general secretary of the party, may be dropped from the cabinet due to his illness. Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Food Minister Qamrul Islam, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Textiles and Jute Minister Emaj Uddin Pramanik and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan are also likely to be left out.

Besides, State Minister for Information Tarana Halim, State Minister for Health Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Social Welfare Nuruzzaman Ahmed and Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Arif Khan Joy also may not get any place in the new cabinet.

Of them, Maya and Joy didn't get party nomination for Sunday's       election.

According to sources, the MPs-elect and some leaders are lobbying the prime minister and her close aides hard to be in the cabinet.

On several occasions in the past, Finance Minister AMA Muhith had said he would retire after the polls. But on Tuesday, he said he may remain as the minister for another year if the PM wanted him to do so.

In that case, Muhith may continue to be at the helm of the finance ministry as a technocrat minister.

Telecom and ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar and Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman, who resigned from cabinet before the polls, might to be inducted in the cabinet again as technocrat ministers.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim, LGRD Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Narayan Chandra Chanda, State Minister for Finance MA Mannan, State Minister for Textiles and Jute Mirza Azam, State Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Sikder, State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid and State Minister for Environment Abdullah Al Islam Jacob are likely to continue as ministers. But there might be changes in their portfolio, party insiders said.

Besides, some new faces, including AL presidium members Lt Col (Retd) Muhammad Faruq Khan and Abdur Razzak; the PM's Private Sector Affairs Adviser Salman F Rahman, AL Joint General Secretary Dipu Moni, party's Cultural Affairs Secretary Asim Kumar Ukil, Liberation War Affairs Secretary Mrinal Kanti Das, Organising Secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury and central committee member RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury also have good chances to be included in the new cabinet.

Of them, the name of Faruq Khan is being discussed as the foreign minister.

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who won from Narail-2, is likely to be a state minister if he does not participate in the cricket World Cup starting in May. If he plays in the WC, he will get the position after the tournament.   

Besides, leaders from the AL's allies, including Jatiya Party, Jatiya Party (Manju), Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), would be in Hasina's new cabinet, insiders added.

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