Speculations swirl over new state minister for religious affairs

A new state minister for religious affairs is reportedly set to take oath.

Besides speculations on social media, several news outlets have reported the development but there has been no confirmation from the government.

A Bangabhaban source said it was preparing for the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday evening.

“A programme has been set for the president (Md Abdul Hamid) to administer the swearing-in of a new state minister,” the source told bdnews24.com on Monday.

The event is usually brief when one or two ministers or state ministers take oath and it could be shorter due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Cabinet Division organises the swearing-in ceremonies, but it has not communicated anything officially.

Media reports suggest Md Faridul Haque Khan Dulal, a ruling Awami League MP from Jamalpur-2 (Islampur), will be the new state minister.

Faridul, 64, is representing the constituency for the third time.

“Maybe a gazette will be issued tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. We will know about it

then,” Faridul told bdnews24.com.

“Nothing can be said before 2pm tomorrow. There may be a swearing-in within a day or two. We’ve heard that it will be done the day after tomorrow, if not tomorrow,” he added.

Asked whether he had been invited to take oath, Faridul answered in the negative. “We will know by tomorrow afternoon whether there will be a swearing-in ceremony or who will be called.”     

“No one knows who will be given the charge [of the ministry],” he said.

When bdnews24.com asked about the media reports suggesting his name, he said these were “wild”. “I’ve complained about these,” he said.

Faridul has recently recovered from the COVID-19.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been in charge of the religious affairs ministry in line with the rules since the death of technocrat state minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah from a heart attack on Jun 13.

Hasina formed government for the third consecutive term in January 2019 after the Awami League’s landslide victory in the parliamentary elections.

She appointed 24 ministers, 19 state ministers and three deputy ministers.

After two reshuffles and the death of Abdullah, her administration now has 25 ministers, 18 state ministers and three deputy ministers.