The new government led by the Awami League (AL) begins a tightrope walking this evening amid high expectations of people, ending around two-year long eventful rule of the caretaker government.
President Iajuddin Ahmed appoints and administers oath today to AL chief Sheikh Hasina as the next prime minister and her colleagues in the new council of ministers, who will have to deliver on their electoral pledges that increased people’s hope for changes.
On the desire of the new premier, he will also appoint and administer oath to other ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers.
After swearing in as the prime minister for the second term since she has been leading the country’s one of the oldest political parties, Hasina will distribute portfolios among her council of ministers.
Political analysts believe that as mass people extended their support to the AL-led grand alliance in the December 29 parliamentary election keeping confidence in its electoral pledges, they will definitely scrutinise every step the new government takes.
With the wholehearted support of people and the armed forces, the caretaker government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed started its journey on January 12, 2007, but people’s expectations and confidence in it reduced largely as it could not deliver accordingly.
Commoners suffered a lot mainly because of high prices of essentials despite some sincere efforts of the caretaker government to arrest the menace.
The government, however, became successful at the end of its tenure in achieving its prime goal to ensure holding of a free and fair parliamentary election to install a pro-people elected government and it has been appreciated nationally and internationally for holding the election in an unprecedented peaceful manner.
Sheikh Hasina, the prime-minister-in-waiting, has already underscored her government’s prime tasks of brining down the prices of essentials and controlling law and order.
But also other pledges like ensuring good governance, continuing the anti-corruption drive and reforms and making parliament effective to bring changes.
Meanwhile, amid widespread speculations about the possible formation of the council of ministers senior AL leader HT Imam yesterday said it would be "a mix of old and young people". He did not give any hints about the probable names but said the cabinet will certainly contain technocrats.
"The cabinet will be medium-sized and finalising of the selection of the persons is going on," he told reporters at Sudha Sadan yesterday.
TIGHTROPE WALKING WILL BE FOR HASINA
According to the constitution, as the prime minister Hasina will occupy the central position in the parliamentary form of government: she is the leader of the council of ministers and parliament.
She has to coordinate government policies. She will act in aid of her colleagues in the cabinet and the council of ministers. While she has to depend on them to a great extent she will also have to take responsibility for their acts.
So, picking a good team for the cabinet–the ultimate policy- and decision-making body of the executive–will largely forecast its performance in the days to come.
And the AL chief has said she would surprise all in this regard.
Along with the enormous responsibility, the new prime minister will, however, enjoy constitutional authority to take action against any member of the council of ministers if they fail to perform as per her desire or get involved in controversy.
According to the constitution, the ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers will hold offices as per the wish of the prime minister who can ask any of them to resign and request the president to terminate their appointments in case they do not comply with her asking.
Hasina, who will automatically be the leader of the House on her appointment as the prime minister, will also have to take responsibility of the acts of the lawmakers, particularly those of her party who are large in number.
In the December 29 polls, the AL-led alliance got 262 seats with the AL securing 230 seats alone. The number of AL lawmakers will exceed 265 when another 36 lawmakers to be elected to the seats reserved for women will join parliament.
Many political analysts and even a few AL leaders said it would be another tough task for the party to keep the lawmakers under the chain of command. The ruling coalition, however, has huge opportunity to re-build the country if it can engage its lawmakers and people in the efforts, they added.
The lawmakers outside the council of ministers will have significant role to play in the parliamentary committees by scrutinising the government’s expenditures and activities to ensure parliamentary watch on the executive.
Those belonging to the AL-led grand alliance will have to be allowed unhindered to do the crucial tasks as the opposition is not strong enough in term of number, experts in parliamentary affairs said.
Unethical activities of a few lawmakers and their relatives during both the previous AL and BNP governments tainted the governments’ images, but in most cases the then governments blindly defended their misdeeds.
At the maiden meeting of the AL parliamentary party Hasina warned her deputies of stern actions in case they get involved in any misdeed.
In the past, the governments with overwhelming majority in parliament could not deliver properly; rather a government with simple majority has records of doing well except for a few controversies.