general

Hasina's cabinet sets a record

The cabinet headed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina completed five years yesterday, which is a new record. But, the tenure of the Awami League government will end with the expiry of the seventh parliament on July 13.

By Rashed Chowdhury
00:00 June 23, 2001

The cabinet headed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina completed five years yesterday, which is a new record. But, the tenure of the Awami League government will end with the expiry of the seventh parliament on July 13.

Interestingly, Hasina's cabinet is the first to have ministers from opposition parties and the highest percentage of women representatives. Her 43-member strong cabinet currently features two female ministers and a state minister. Ministers from a technocrat quota now stand at three.

Having formed the government with 20 ministers and state ministers on June 23, 1996. Hasina reshuffled her cabinet only thrice, the biggest and the last one taking place in December 1999. Resignation, firing and deaths of ministers also led to changes in the cabinet at different times. Besides, portfolios of the ministers were also allocated on different occasions.

Hasina inducted four opposition lawmakers into her cabinet. She made Anwar Hossain Monju of Jatiya Party the communications ministers and A.S.M. Abdur Rob of JSD the shipping minister (subsequently the fisheries and livestock minister) on the very day she formed the cabinet.

In a surprise move in early 1998, she made BNP lawmakers Dr Mohammed Alauddin and Hasibur Rahman Swapan state minister and deputy minister respectively. Monju and Rob are still in the cabinet, while Alauddin and Swapan, who joined Hasina's government of "national consensus" lost their membership as the high court declared their parliamentary seats vacant on charge of floor-crossing.

Alauddin won by-election in his Rajshahi constituency on Awami League ticket and again became minister, but Swapan lost his. Alauddin, however, died later.

In all these five years, two state ministers were fired as some of their actions triggered widespread controversy. The first Home Minister Maj Rafiqul Islam, had to resign quite some days after he was relegated to as minister without portfolio. Veteran Awami Leaguer Salauddin Yusuf, who was stripped of his health portfolio in December 1999 reshuffle, died last year also as minister without portfolio.

In the biggest expansion of her cabinet in 1999, Hasina inducted three new ministers and six state ministers in an apparent move to contain growing discontent within the ruling party. Powerful AL leaders Amir Hossain Amu and Abdul Jalil, and disgruntled Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim were the cabinet entrants then.