Tofail, Menon decline offer to join cabinetKhadimul Islam and Moloy Saha
In a twist in power politics, veteran Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed and Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon declined the prime minister’s offer to join the cabinet.
The cabinet secretary, Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuyian requested both the leaders along with five others to take oath at Bangabhaban on Thursday but they did not turn up despite behind-the-scenes efforts.
‘At this point in time I am not politically, mentally and socially prepared to take up the ministerial job,’ an apparently disillusioned Tofail said in response to a question from reporters.
Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon said there was no scope for him to join the cabinet considering the overall situation as his party’s politburo at a meeting on Thursday morning decided not to join the government.
‘I’ve no reaction. There was a plan to take seven new ministers and the seven are there,’ a smiling prime minister Sheikh Hasina said in reply to a question from reporters at Bangabhaban after the oath-taking ceremony.
Asked if Tofail Ahmed had violated the party discipline by not accepting the offer to become a minister, Hasina said, ‘I am the party president. I did not phone him. It was the cabinet secretary who called him and some others.’
Before talking to reporters, Tofail said he had been given the responsibility to look after the Kapasia by-election and he wanted to carry out the duty properly.
Tofail said, ‘I love my party; the government belongs to my party. I think I will not able to do anything by joining the cabinet at the moment.’
He said he believed that those who were already in the cabinet and newly inducted ministers would carry out their responsibilities well. ‘It does not matter if a person like Tofael joins the cabinet or not.’
Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon, also an ally of the Awami League, on Thursday refused the prime minister’s offer to join the cabinet though his party would continue to back the government in and outside parliament.
The Workers Party politburo at the morning with Menon in the chair observed that neither the prime minister nor the Awami League had ever discussed with the Workers Party any matters of the government, including formation of the cabinet, after the last general elections.
‘The Workers Party has no participation in the cabinet,’ Menon said after the meeting.
The meeting said the Workers Party had repeatedly given reminders to reactivate the 14-party alliance but it fell in deaf ears.
Under the circumstances, the Workers Party central committee at a meeting on September 15, 2011 decided that there was no scope for the party to join the cabinet.
‘However the party will continue to support the government in and outside parliament and strengthen the unity of non-communal democratic forces, including the 14-party and resist all conspiracies to bring back the rightist communal forces, including the BNP-Jamaat, to power.’
The WP politburo said 10 members out of 12 took part in Thursday’s meeting where the general secretary of the party placed the suggestion not to join the cabinet.
WP politburo member and former general secretary Bimal Biswas said popularity of the AL-led government was on the wane.
Safiuddin Ahmed said the government had failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people and suggested that the WP should not join the cabinet.
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