Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hasina fires new salvo against Yunus during briefing on India trip

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2017-04-11 18:54:58 BdST


A former prime minister of a foreign country had requested Bangladesh to leave Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus alone, says PM Sheikh Hasina.

“But I said he must pay taxes like everyone else,” Hasina said at a media briefing on her India tour at the Ganabhaban on Tuesday.  

Hasina made the comments in response to a TV journalist’s question on Yunus, the former managing director of Grameen Bank, but did not drop a hint on the identity of the foreign prime minister.

“What are you actually trying to say?” she said laughing with others in the briefing hall. “Your question didn’t seem to have a point.”

The journalist then named Nobel peace laureate Yunus, alleging that he tried to oust Hasina by plotting with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an ‘attempt foiled’ by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

“Why are you so late to know this? You are a journalist and you should have found out earlier, before it was reported in the Indian media.”

The Telegraph, a Kolkata-based newspaper, reported on Apr 7: “As the political temperature rose in Bangladesh on the Yunus issue, Mukherjee, who was then finance minister in the UPA government, one day got a phone call from Clinton who, as Barack Obama's secretary of state, was taking a degree of interest in South Asia that was unprecedented by the standards of most of her predecessors.”

The newspaper, citing “multiple sources from both the Indian and American sides”, said Clinton made an impassioned plea that India should support Yunus in his bid to frustrate Hasina and her efforts to prise Grameen Bank away from its founder.

Hasina did not mention any particular Indian newspaper for the alleged conspiracy to oust her.

She charged that Yunus received salaries from Grameen Bank as managing director even after his retirement age at 60.

Yunus formed companies using the iconic name, Grameen, which he cannot do, she said. Hasina cited Grameen America.

Bangladesh Bank removed Yunus from the bank in 2011, on the ground of crossing the official age limit. Yunus had challenged his dismissal in the top court but lost.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, during his removal, had said that the government was unable to take any decision regarding Grameen Bank because of Yunus, as he kept influencing the decisions even after his removal.

The government currently holds a 24 percent stake in Grameen Bank, the co-winner of the Nobel peace prize in 2006.

The Nobel Prize winner’s relationship with the government has been on shaky ground and at times it leads to heated exchanges.

A former Chittagong University professor, Yunus had been the Managing Director of Grameen Bank since its inception in the 1980s.