Hasina chooses 25 novice ministers, makes personal physician foreign minister

January 7th, 2009 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 7 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made her personal physician the foreign minister in her 32-member team in which as many as 25 are newcomers.The new foreign minister Dipu Moni is a physician who has been treating Hasina since she escaped attempt on her life in 2004 that left her hearing and vision partially impaired.

The appointments of the new ministers, at the cost of the party veterans who had fought the freedom movement under her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s leadership 37 years ago, were justified as it was required to bring in speed, efficiency and meet new challenges that the country faces.

Some at the swearing-in ceremony Monday evening called them “revolutionary”, New Age newspaper said.

Hasina sprang a surprise on the party veterans as she named Tuesday a 32-strong team, dropping almost the entire policy making presidium from the cabinet. Of the 32, as many as 25 are newcomers; 24 of them will hold cabinet rank, while the rest eight will be junior ministers.

Hasina retains the key portfolio of defence. The prime minister also retains energy and power, housing and public works, women’s affairs, religious affairs and armed forces division.

Ramesh Chandra Sen, one of the half a dozen lawmakers from the Hindu community, has been placed in charge of water resources. This will require him to deal with India on the sharing of the Ganga water under a 1998 bilateral treaty.

The four women in her team include Sahara Khatun, an advocate placed in charge of home and Motia Chowdhury, who will look after agriculture.

While sidelining the veterans, Hasina has accommodated the sons of some of them.

Syed Ashraful Islam, son of 1971 war-time acting president Syed Nazrul Islam, will be at the helm of the local government.

Tanjim Ahmed, better known as Sohel Taj, son of the Mujibnagar government prime minister Tajuddin Ahmed, is made state minister for home.

A.M.A. Muhit is finance minister, an office he had held way back in the 1980s.

Liberation war hero A.K. Khandker returns to the cabinet as planning minister after nearly 20 years, having served in the same ministry in the 1980s.

Education goes to former communist leader Nurul Islam Nahid.

Abul Kalam Azad, a Jamalpur MP, becomes information minister.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, father-in-law of Hasina’s daughter Saima Wajed, gets two ministries - labour and employment and expatriate welfare.

Dilip Barua becomes industries minister.

G.M. Quader, a Jatiya Party presidium member and brother of former president H.M. Ershad, will be civil aviation and tourism minister.

Law has been assigned to Hasina’s attorney Shafiq Ahmed and telecommunications to Raziuddin Ahmed Razu.

Shafiq and two others - Dilip Barua and AL’s science secretary Yafes Osman (state minister) - are technocrats.

Another physician A.F.M. Ruhul Haq will steer health. Retired Lt. Col. Faruq Khan gets commerce while Abdul Latif Siddiqui gets jute and textiles.

Enamul Huq Mustafa Shahid is in charge of social welfare.

Rezaul Karim Hira has got land, Afsarul Amin shipping, Abdul Latif Biswas fisheries and livestock.

Dipankar Talukdar, who is a state minister for Chittagong Hill Tract Affairs in the 1996-2001 AL government, will return to the ministry again.

Among other junior ministers, retired captain Tajul Islam has been allotted liberation war affairs, Hasan Mahmud foreign affairs, Fizar forest and environment, Munnujan Sufian labour and Ahad Ali Sarker youth and sports.

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