Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to reshuffle the cabinet soon, primarily to improve the government's performance ahead of the elections, and drop ministers whose activities have embarrassed the government, sources say.
Two top ruling Awami League leaders say party chief Hasina wants to induct “competent” leaders in the cabinet for political benefit.
In the present Hasina-led cabinet there are 51 members – 31 ministers, 17 state ministers and two deputy ministers.
Ministries of telecommunications, power and energy, women and children affairs, youth and sports, social welfare, labour, ICT, and CHT affairs are currently without ministers.
Party insiders say new faces will be included, while one or two state ministers will likely be promoted.
Hints of a possible reshuffle after a two-year break has unsettled some of the cabinet members who fear losing their posts, but it also presents an opportunity for people who made sacrifices for the party and are now eagerly looking forward to rewards – that is cabinet berths.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the prime minister was monitoring the entire thing and would take the final decision.
Several ministers and party leaders, speaking on the issue, said irresponsible remarks by some ministers had embarrassed the government in the past.
Prime Minister Hasina also has information on ministers who were reportedly involved in corruption through their respective ministries.
Two ministers, who declined to be named, said there was scope that the opposition would try to use allegations against cabinet members for political gain before the election. This could tarnish the government's image and even cost them the crucial elections.
So, the prime minister wants to drop the controversial figures and make the government more dynamic, they added.
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Sources say several ministers and state ministers are likely to be left in the cold for reasons including incompetence.
Only the prime minister knows about the changes, they said.
The reshuffle, that will likely take place soon, will give opportunities to party leaders whom Hasina had promised cabinet berths after coming to power in 1996 but were left in the cold during the last two terms, the sources said.
Hasina is also reportedly considering including popular politicians who had been elected to the House four to five times.
Another reason, sources claim, is being covered up by the state for various reasons. Two intelligence agencies hinted that Sheikh Hasina's safety issue had also come up.
Recently, an influential agency of a neighbouring country has informed the government's top brass that there were still security concerns surrounding Hasina. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies' senior officers have discussed the issue.
But the sources did not elaborate on the questions surrounding Hasina's security and its relations to the cabinet reshuffle.
The intelligence agencies have taken up the matter seriously and put a number of groups and organisations under the scanner, considering the fact that there had been at least 20 attempts on Hasina's life, they said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will set the date for the cabinet reshuffle. Although changes to the cabinet are routine exercises, this time the process has been delayed for various reasons, a source said.
The last reshuffle took place on July 14, 2015, a year and a half after the Awami League came to power for a second consecutive time.
The latest changes are likely to be made either at the end of July or in September, sources said.
The story was first published in Bangla Tribune