Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has played down speculations that AK Abdul Momen was dropped from Sheikh Hasina’s entourage for her India visit over his controversial remarks.
However, he added it is up to the prime minister whether to sack her foreign minister.
Quader, who holds the road transport and bridges portfolio in the cabinet, faced questions about the issue at an event organised by Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.
“It’s not that the foreign minister will always accompany the prime minister overseas. Was the external affairs minister with Narendra Modi when the Indian prime minister visited Bangladesh? The foreign minister is also a human being who can get sick,” Quader said.
Momen was scheduled to travel to New Delhi with Hasina on Monday, but he was dropped from her entourage at the last minute as criticisms continued over his recent remarks on Bangladesh-India relations. Foreign ministry officials said the minister could not travel because he fell sick.
Momen recently came under fire when he suggested that he had entreated the Indian government to aid the Awami League in Bangladesh's general elections. Some officials said this was the reason behind his exclusion from the trip.
Asked whether Momen will get the axe for his contentious remarks, Quader said the decision is up to the head of the government.
“I think the prime minister has noticed the issue and is thinking about it. It’s her jurisdiction. You are also writing about it and I don’t think these have escaped her notice.”
“She will analyse and take decisions as per her authority in the best interests of the country and the party.”
Quader defended the cabinet’s strength, stating that some ministers who came from the grassroots may have weaknesses but Hasina covers their shortcomings. “Our work has not stopped.”
He said whether he will retain the general secretary’s post in the next party council scheduled for December also depends on Hasina.
Quader said he is ready to accept any decision taken by the prime minister. “My life was hard. I achieved my place due to my devotion to politics. I am lucky that I became a minister in 1996 and I have been serving in the post since 2011. Many politicians in Bangladesh are not so fortunate.”