Decision on election-time cabinet on Oct 26: Quader

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Dhaka, October 23: Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said the decision on the size of the election-time cabinet will be taken at a meeting on October 26.A joint meeting of Awami League central working committee and its advisory parliamentary committees will be held at 6 pm on the day to take the decision, Quader, also the AL general secretary, said while briefing reporters at his secretariat office in the city, UNB reports.

According to the Prime Minister’s Monday’s speech, he said, there is little possibility to downsize the cabinet.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday preferred not to downsize the cabinet ahead of the election for the sake of completing the ongoing crucial development projects.

Quader also said, “If the size is smaller, two or more ministers can be added.”

The meeting will also decide the declaration of the party manifesto for the upcoming general election, he added.

“The Election commission will declare the schedule for the upcoming national election by the first week of November,” the AL general secretary said.

The Election Commission will work to create a level-playing field and conduct the election in a free and fair manner, he said.

“Who will contest the election to be decided by the commission,” said the AL leader.

The duties of the election-time cabinet will be limited, said the minister adding, “It’ll do only routine works. There’ll be no Ecnec meeting, no bills will be passed, and no project will be inaugurated either at that time.”

Responding to a query whether there will be any cabinet meeting, the minister said if the Prime Minister wants, cabinet meetings could be held. “But no agenda will be implemented at that time.”

In other democratic countries of the world, normally elections are held under the government that are in power. “The same will happen in our country, too,” he said.

Mainul’s Arrest

Responding to another question whether barrister Mainul Hosein was arrested for joining Oikya Front, Quader said, “He was arrested for abusing a female journalist, not for his political identity, but in a case filed against him.. there is no political reason.”

He asked the journalists just to forget that Mainul was arrested for his political identity.

Digital Security Act Amendment

While replying to a query on the Digital Security Act, the minister said there is no chance of any amendment to the much-debated act before the next general election.

“We’ll keep it under observation if there is any misuse of the Act. If anyone doesn’t commit any crime, then why he would be worried about it,” he added.

“A local AL leader filed a case against a woman of Jhenaigati upazila in Sherpur under the Act for distorting my photo on Facebook. When I heard about it, I asked the police to discharge her from the case,” said the minister.

Grand Alliance Size

Responding to another question whether the size of the grand alliance will be extended further, he said the decision will be finalised after observing other political alliances.

Mega Projects

Asked about the government’s previous promises that the mega projects would be completed during its current tenure, Obaidul said, “Mega projects like Padma Bridge and Metro Rail are now visible.”

BNP & Jatiya Party

Replying to another question whether BNP will join the election, he said there will be level-playing during the election. “So, there is no need to invite them.”

He also denied that there was any international pressure to invite them to join the election.

Referring to Jatiya Party Chairman’s HM Ershad’s recent speech on the election, Quader said, “As he (Ershad) is admitted to the CHM, he may fear about the election.”

“The election will be held in time,” the AL leader insisted.