Telecom minister Abdul Latif Siddique, whose fate in the cabinet has been in doubt over the past few days, is also set to lose his Presidium membership in the Awami League after Eid-ul-Azha.
A few leaders of the ruling party told the Dhaka Tribune last night that chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the discloser when they went to meet her at Ganabhaban.
She told them about her plan to hold a meeting of the party’s Working Committee after Eid to remove Latif from party post.
The leaders said the premier had expressed her anger over Latif Siddique’s recent comments.
Party sources said General Secretary Syed Ahsraful Islam, Jahanir Kabir Nanok, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Dr Hasan Mahmud others among the leaders who met Hasina after her return to Dhaka.
Latif Siddique’s removal from the cabinet, however, will remain pending until the president gives his nod to the decision after returning from hajj, according to a senior leader of the party.
Earlier in the day, Sheikh Hasina was quoted by the party’s Central Organising Secretary Mesbah Uddin Ahmed Siraj as saying: “He [Latif] will be removed from the cabinet and all party posts as it is unacceptable when anyone hurts the religious sentiment of the people.
“A sane person cannot make such comments hurting people’s religious sentiments. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. I have also performed hajj and umrah several times. So, if anyone from my cabinet and party makes such statements, it will not be tolerated.”
Following her return to the country after a 10-day visit to the US and the UK, Hasina made the remarks to her party members at the VIP lounge of Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.
Siraj told the Dhaka Tribune: “You [journalists] will see the necessary initiatives after the premier returns to Dhaka. Strong actions will be taken against him [Latif].”
If the Awami League follows through with the decision to expel Abdul Latif Siddique from the party, he will also lose his seat in parliament, in accordance with the constitution.
Last Sunday, while addressing a programme organised by immigrant Bangladeshis in New York, the minister for Posts, Telecommunications and ICT said he was against hajj and ijtema and that the pilgrimages were wastage of valuable money and manpower.
He also said prime minister’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy was no one to make any important decision of the state.
His comments drew widespread flak from different political parties and organisations who demanded exemplary punishment to the minister.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury yesterday said Latif Siddique would remain in his cabinet post until the end of hajj, as the president would need to return from his pilgrimage before approving the removal.
Although the premier had decided to remove the minister, the matter would stay pending until the president returned home, she said.
“The president has gone to perform hajj. As the formalities [to remove Latif] will be executed through the president, it would be settled after his return.”
President Abdul Hamid is currently in Saudi Arabia to perform hajj and is scheduled to return home on October 10.
Earlier, ruling party leaders had claimed that the decision to remove Latif would be executed after Hasina’s return. However, no official initiative had been taken as of last night.
Acting cabinet secretary Nazrul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that they had not received any directive in this regard so far. Earlier, ruling party Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif said the prime minister had instantly removed Latif from his post after she learned about what he said.
Cases against Latif Siddique
Several cases were meanwhile filed against Latif Siddique yesterday across the country, accusing the minister of hurting people’s religious sentiments.
In Khulna, two cases were filed against Latif by Daily Anirban newspaper Editor Ali Ahmed and advocate SM Wasiur Rahman, a member of the district lawyers’ association.
The cases were filed with the Khulna Metropolitan Amali Court of Judge Abir Parvez, who issued summons against the accused and scheduled the next hearing for November 11. Noakhali Bar Association Vice-President advocate Nasir Bhuyan filed a case with the Judicial Magistrate Court 1 and Magistrate Md Zahir Uddin summoned him to appear before the court on December 11.
In Barguna, Chardoani upazila parishad Chairman Md Quamrul Islam filed a case against the minister with the court of Patharghata Judicial Magistrate AFM Maruf Chowdhury, who ordered to carry out a probe and submit a report within seven days.