Just a day after appointing three new ministers and a state minister, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday ordered a major reshuffle of the cabinet with eight changes.
Two of the ministers with new portfolios are leaders of parties in the alliance – Anwar Hossain Manju of JP (Manju) and Rashed Khan Menon of Workers Party – while another alliance leader, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, will have a deputy for the first time in Tarana Halim.
The latest development led to speculation in the country’s political arena that the ruling Awami League is reexamining its ties with its allies in the 14-party alliance well ahead of the next general election.
Rashed Khan Menon, who was serving as the civil aviation and tourism minister, has been moved to the Ministry of Social Welfare after AKM Shahjahan Kamal, a lawmaker from Laxmipur, replaced him on Tuesday.
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Jatiya Party (JaPa) presidium member and Minister of Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmood has swapped place with Anwar Hossain Manju, who was Environment and Forest Minister.
In his immediate reaction, Rashed Khan Menon, also the president of the Workers Party of Bangladesh, told reporters that he will be able to work with the people now as he has “come down to the ground from the sky.”
He told the Bangla Tribune that he had been successful in his previous role.
“I successfully faced the challenges of the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry. So I think I was successful there,” he observed.
Menon had however received some flak in his role as the civil aviation and tourism minister after the emergency landing of a flight carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, following a technical glitch, on November 27, 2016.
The incident caused a number of Awami League leaders to express their resentment, with many on the social media blaming the then Civil Aviation Minister Menon for the incident.
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Meanwhile, the new cabinet revamp made Tarana Halim the deputy of Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, who too garnered criticism from the 14-party combine for his controversial remarks and activities in recent times.
Tarana had been tasked with the role of the state minister for post and telecommunications.
Inu came under fire from senior Awami League leaders quite a few times ever since he took the job in the Information Ministry.
On November 7 last year, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader came down heavily on Inu, also the president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSoD), for his remarks that the ruling party would not be able to assume power in thousand years without the help of other parties.
Earlier on June 13, 2016, former Awami League Syed Ashraful Islam warned the government that it might have to pay the price for picking up ministers from JaSod.