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New govt to go tough against political violence

PM warns cabinet colleagues against corruption

Mustafizur Rahman

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said that her new government would henceforth go tough in dealing with political violence if any in the future.
She directed the agencies concerned to take stern action against those involved in violence and vandalism during the recent political unrest over the January 5 national polls boycotted by Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance. 
Sheikh Hasina gave the policy directives while presiding over the first meeting of her new cabinet at the secretariat.
‘The new government would contain any political violence with strong hand. The authorities have been asked to become tougher against violence and vandalism in the name of political programmes from now on,’ a minister quoted the PM as having told the cabinet meeting.
In an oblique reference to the fate of a number of ministers and state ministers of her previous cabinet, Hasina warned her new colleagues against corruption, the minister told New Age.
She had underlined the need for ensuring good governance and fulfilling the aspirations of the common people. The prime minister hinted that the Jatiya Sangsad speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury might be replaced.
She, however, asked her cabinet colleagues and officials concerned to give additional efforts to make up the losses caused by the political violence in last two-three months and the countrywide rail-road-waterways blockade by the BNP-led alliance.
The cabinet meeting approved in principle the draft speech of the president, Abdul Hamid, prepared for the maiden session of the 10th parliament scheduled for January 29 with some observations, according to cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan. 
‘The president’s speech would depict the overall situation of the country in the present socio-political and economic perspectives. It would also contain the previous government’s successes in various sectors and directives for development in the future,’ Musharraf Hossain told a briefing after the meeting.
He said that the prime minister had briefed her cabinet members on the new government’s policies and priorities.
Hasina told her colleagues to face BNP-Jamaat politically and place ‘correct information’ about the elections to the common people to remove ‘confusions created by the propaganda against the polls’, a minister told New Age. 
She also called upon the secretaries present in the meeting to work hard and strengthen monitoring so that the economic growth of the country did not fall as forecast by the World Bank.
The prime minister thanked the officials for carrying out their responsibilities to conduct the elections amid adversities.
Over 100 people were killed and many road transports and trains were set on fire during the political violence in the run up to the January 5 elections.
All the ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers, but commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, attended the first cabinet meeting. 
Finance minister AMA Muhith said that the current budget would be revised downward.
Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as prime minister for the second consecutive term on January 12 after securing an absolute majority in the 10th parliamentary polls.
A 49-member new cabinet comprising 29 ministers, 17 state ministers and two deputy ministers was formed on the day before the expiry of the 9th parliament on January 24 amidst confusions over whether the constitution allowed it. 
HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party remains in the cabinet although the same party will play the role of the opposition in parliament. 

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