Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sohel Taj leaving Bangladesh Awami League

Former state minister for home Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, who tendered his resignation in May 2009 from the post of State Minister [Junior Minister] for Home Affairs, is now actively considering resigning from Bangladesh Awami League after he relinquished his membership in Bangladesh Parliament on April 23, 2012. Abu Kawsar, additional personal assistant of Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, submitted the resignation letter to the speaker's office around 10.25 in the morning. Md Shamim, an official of the speaker's office, received the letter from the APS.

In the letter, Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj said, "My constituency is Gazipur-4 [Kapasia]. I am submitting my resignation letter to you [speaker] under section 67 [2] of Bangladesh Constitution."

His resignation came almost three years after he resigned from the post of state minister for home. Sohel Taj told reporters that he stood down as the state minister for home affairs on May 31, 2009 so that his dignity and principles could survive intact.

Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, the only son of country's first Prime Minister and celebrated politician, Tajuddin Ahmed resigned from the cabinet five months after the ruling Bangladesh Awami League-led grand alliance government assumed office. He sent his resignation letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on June 1, 2009 according to the Constitution. But no gazette notification was issued on his resignation. But, despite his resignation from the post of State Minister, the government continued to send monthly honorarium and other financial benefits to his account, which clearly annoyed the young leader and now former member of the parliament. So far more than TK 4 million has been sent to his account by the government. Expressing highest dissatisfaction, Sohel Taj questioned as to why such a huge amount of money was sent to his account after two and a half years and why no gazette notification on his resignation was issued. He also demanded that the government issue a gazette notification in this regard, as he thinks his dignity and image of the government as well as the prime minister have been tarnished for not doing so.

"I want to know why an embarrassing situation has been created by not issuing a gazette notification. Why mysteriously huge amount of money was deposited to my account after two and a half years when I did not get a single coin as remuneration and allowances as a lawmaker since my resignation? I want answers from the cabinet secretary," commented Sohel Taj.

Commenting on the resignation of Sohel Taj, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said he was unable to take decision on a matter related to the rank of a state minister. "I need the prime minister's guidelines in this regard," he said, adding that it is the duty of the Cabinet Division to give salary and wages to every minister and state minister if they officially belong to the government.

He added, a state minister does not have to sign his/her cheque in receiving salary and wages as it goes automatically to their accounts. A state minister gets TK 120,800 [US$1491] per month including different allowances including house rent and fuel allowance.

Sohel Taj told reporters, there is no provision in the Constitution that resignation of a state minister would not be accepted by the prime minister. He said he has been kept as state minister on the government's list forcibly and given remuneration and allowances against the position forcibly.

"These are clear human rights violation and I'm being disregarded intentionally. I'm no longer a state minister."
He claimed his passport has not been allowed to change by the government and he has to face embarrassment every time he travels. "Enough has happened so far and it has to end now," he urged the government.

Asked why he chose to resign, he said, "I can't tell you why. All I can say is things did not work out the way I wanted. Now I don't want to embarrass anyone. I would rather wish everyone best of luck.

"I tried to work sincerely to implement our charter for change even though it required me to stay away from my family in the US. But I couldn't continue as I didn't want to compromise my principles, dignity and family values."

Sohel Taj was also under pressure from influential party leaders to serve their interests. His nerves began to fray with lobbying for posts, promotions and undue privileges for police officials getting intense.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Adviser HT Imam said the prime minister did not accept the resignation. Instead, she asked him to go on leave for as long as it should take to resolve whatever problems he had.

Bangladesh Awami League insiders said Hasina wanted him to take leave of absence as she sought to avoid a controversy like the one during the rule of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Tajuddin was dropped from Mujib's cabinet, causing uproar. Afsar Uddin Ahmad Khan, Tajuddin's younger brother who was state minister for housing and public works in the previous Bangladesh Awami League government, too left his position after a short stint.

Commenting on the resignation of Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj from the parliament, political analysts in Dhaka said, "He inherits the honesty, sincerity and leadership qualities of his father, who also never comprised with his dignity. By leaving such position, Sohel Taj certainly proved that he is a righteous individual."

Meanwhile is it learnt from a number of sources that, Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj is actively considering resigning from Bangladesh Awami League as it is continuing repressive actions on the people as well as the political opponents, thus exposing a fascist nature at home and abroad.