Rumours ran high that Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam was removed from the post of LGRD minister yesterday after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had expressed displeasure at his absence from an Ecnec meeting.
Ashraf, however, brushed off the reports.
Talking to reporters in his home district of Kishoreganj in the evening, he advised journalists not to pay attention to rumours.
“I know nothing about it. You'd better not listen to rumours,” said Ashraf.
Earlier in the afternoon, Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters at the secretariat that he didn't get any directives regarding Ashraf.
AL sources said Ashraf was at his official residence on Bailey Road when the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) was going on at the council auditorium in the morning.
After the meeting, the premier summoned Ashraf to parliament. He went to the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban around 1:00pm and
had a one-to-one meeting with her, party sources said.
Later, Ashraf left for Kishoreganj to attend an iftar party organised by the district AL.
At the Ecnec meeting, officials placed project proposals involving Tk 6,076 crore under which every lawmaker would get Tk 20 crore for five years for development work in their constituencies.
As neither the LGRD minister nor State Minister Moshiur Rahman Ranga was there to explain the projects, Finance Minister AMA Muhith proposed postponing discussion on the topic, said meeting sources.
Muhith also expressed annoyance at the absence of both the ministers.
The PM, who chaired the meeting, appeared annoyed at that moment. She asked why Ashraf wasn't there, and said she would remove him from the post of the LGRD minister yesterday, said the sources.
Hasina then asked Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed to take charge of the LGRD ministry in addition to his current portfolio.
But Tofail said he was already burdened with workload and was unable to take on additional responsibility. He suggested giving the charge to Expatriates' Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain.
The PM asked Mosharraf to prepare for taking additional charge, added the sources.