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Discovery of ‘bribe money’

Suranjit draws allies’ fire

Moloy Saha and Mohiuddin Alamgir

AL leaders defend him

Allies of the ruling Awami League, embarrassed by the incident of the discovery of Tk 70 lakh from the car of assistant personal secretary to railway minister Suranjit Sengupta on Monday night, have demanded ‘stern action’ against the persons involved in the scandal.
Some of the ruling alliance partners called for resignation of the railway minister over the incident.
Leaders of the alliance partners while talking to New Age also said the scandal ‘involving’ Suranjit Sengupta would taint the image of the AL-led alliance government.
Awami League leaders, however, defended Suranjit, also the party’s advisory council member, by saying the incident had resulted from a conspiracy to ‘taint’ the political career of Suranjit and the party’s image as well.
The car carrying Suranjit's assistant personal secretary Omar Faruq Talukder, Railway's general manager (East) Yusuf Ali Mridha and divisional commandant Enamul Huq drove into the Border Guard Bangladesh headquarters in the capital around 11:30pm on Monday and stopped.
When guards at the entrance rushed to the car as it had entered the BGB head
quarters without permission, Omar Faruq’s  driver Ali Azam told them there was ‘bribe money’ stashed in the car. The guards discovered Tk 70 lakh in the car and detained the four.
Since the discovery of the money, the minister, who took over the newly-created railways ministry barely five months back, has faced widespread criticism prompting him to suspend his APS.
The railway ministry has also formed two committees to look into the matter.
Newspapers reported that the money was taken as bribe for jobs in the railway ministry.
Asked whether the incident would leave a damaging impact on the government’s image, communications minister Obaidul Quader said it was up to prime minister Sheikh Hasina to look into the matter.
‘Being a minister I am accountable to the prime minister. He [Suranjit] will also answer to the prime minister about the issue,’ said Obiadul, also a presidium member of the AL.
Jatiya Party secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader on Thursday termed the incident ‘unwarranted’. ‘The minister should consider resignation from the cabinet on moral ground,’ he told New Age.
He said the incident had harmed the image of the government.
‘The government should take stern actions against the people involved in the incident,’ Ruhul Amin said.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president Hasanul Haq Inu said corruption had engulfed the entire administration and the persons involved in the scandal should be given exemplary punishment.
He refused to say whether the railway minister should resign over the incident.
Workers Party of Bangladesh general secretary Anisur Rahman Mollik said that the railway minister should resign from the cabinet on ‘moral ground’.
The incident would certainly tarnish the image of the government and the alliance partners as well, he said.
He also demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident and exemplary punishment of the persons involved.
Ganatantri Party general secretary Nurur Rahman Selim demanded stern action against the persons involved in the incident.
He declined comments when asked if Suranjit should resign as the railway minister.
AL spokesperson and joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif at a press conference after a joint meeting between the AL central committee and its Dhaka city unit on Thursday, said the incident of discovery of Tk 70 lakh from the car of Suranjit’s APS Omar Faruq was ‘unfortunate’.
‘We came to know about the incident from newspaper reports…It is unfortunate. We do not believe he [Suranjit] was involved in the incident… He has a long and bright political career,’ Hanif said at the briefing held at the AL president’s office at Dhanmondi.       
Senior Awami League leader Mohammad Nasim, while speaking at a discussion on Thursday, said the party’s image could not suffer because of ‘one or two individuals’.
‘Railway Bhaban should not turn into another Hawa Bhaban,’ the former home minister said.
BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman is widely accused of running a government parallel to his mother Khaleda Zia’s 2001-6 administration from Hawa Bhaban in Gulshan.
Nasim said the discovery of Tk 70 lakh from the car of Suranjit’s APS Omar Faruq was ‘unfortunate’ and demanded removal of the Omar Faruq and Railway’s general manager (East) Yusuf Ali Mridha duo and their punishment.
Nasim urged Suranjit to take ‘tough action’ against the persons involved in the scandal ‘to ensure that you are clean.’
Most of the AL stalwarts agreed to go on record by saying ‘no comments’, including advisory council member Amir Hossain Amu and organising secretary Ahmad Hossain.
AL organising secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury defended the railway minister by saying, ‘Allegation of corruption against Suranjit is incredible. The incident resulted from a deep conspiracy to taint his political career as well as the party’s image.’
He said it might have been staged to disgrace the government and the party.
‘It was a part of the conspiracy to corrupt politics,’ Khalid Mahmud said.

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Suranjit draws allies’ fire

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