4 new advisers stay put; cabinet meets without advisers for the first time
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked seven of her 11 advisers to resign.
The seven, appointed when the Awami League-led grand alliance took office five years back, will step down in a day or two.
She gave the orders at a meeting with five of the seven at the Gono Bhaban last night, an adviser who was at the meeting told The Daily Star.
“The prime minister called us to the Gono Bhaban this evening and asked us to resign,” the adviser said.
Sources said Hasina took the decision in response to growing criticism over the number of the advisers in her polls-time administration.
The newly appointed four advisers, however, will stay.
Those asked to step down are public administration affairs adviser HT Imam; energy adviser Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury; economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman; health and family welfare and social welfare affairs adviser Syed Modasser Ali; education and political affairs adviser Alauddin Ahmed; international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi; and security adviser major gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique.
Earlier in the day, none of the prime minister’s advisers was invited to the cabinet meeting although advisers used to attend such meetings during the tenure of the grand alliance government.
Cabinet Division sources said the advisers were not invited on a directive from the prime minister.
In January 2009, Hasina appointed seven advisers when she formed the alliance government. She allowed them to attend cabinet meetings, which drew severe criticism even from the ruling Awami League’s rank and file.
Some senior AL leaders including Tofail Ahmed criticised in parliament the presence of unelected persons in cabinet meetings.
Contacted last night, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said, “As per Rules of Business, only the ministers are provided folders (containing agenda and other documents of cabinet meeting). It is the prime minister’s discretion whom she would invite, in addition.”
He went on, “I wanted to know from her (PM) whether the advisers should be invited, and she said no need of it.”
The PM recently made two cabinet members — Shafique Ahmed and Dilip Barua — her advisers with the status of minister.
Ershad-led Jatiya Party’s Ziauddin Bablu and Anwar Hossain Manju of Jatiya Party (Manju) were also made advisers as part of the PM’s bid to bring as many political parties as possible in her polls-time government.
Asked, AL presidium member and Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury said, “The advisers are unelected, so they did not attend the cabinet meeting.”
“They [advisers] will soon become busy with election-related activities,” she said in reply to a question.
Contacted, Dilip Barua said, “When I was a minister, I used to get invitation with a folder. The Cabinet Division did not inform me anything about the meeting. I don’t know the reasons behind this.”
A senior Cabinet Division official said the advisers were not invited to cabinet meeting, as it would go against the spirit of the PM’s announcement that no unelected person would be included in the polls-time administration.
All the 28 ministers and state ministers were present at yesterday’s meeting held at the secretariat with Hasina in the chair.
Talking to journalists later, Musharraf quoted the PM as saying, “It is an all-party polls-time government as we offered all the political parties to join the new cabinet.”
Source: The Daily Star