Vol. 5 Num 716 Sat. June 03, 2006  
Front Page

Saifur likely to quit politics after budget

Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman may quit politics on "health grounds" after placing the national budget for the coming fiscal next week, said family sources and leaders close to him.

Saifur's much-talked-about political row with the party's junior leader Ilyas Ali seems to have been resolved "for the time being" after his meeting with Prime Minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Thursday night.

Sources said a process is underway to make Ilyas seek apology to Saifur and thus resolve the crisis. The finance minister agreed to change his stance on resignation from the cabinet and is going to place the budget for the coming fiscal, they said.

Saifur, one of the founding leaders of BNP, had asked the BNP high command to sack Ilyas, a lawmaker and former leader of the Sylhet BNP, after the latter allegedly made abusive remarks about him.

His three-day period for taking a decision about resignation ends today.

Meanwhile, in an interview with a private television channel last evening, Saifur said, "I have already placed 11 national budgets and another is coming next week...I do not want to continue and this may be the end of my innings."

On participation in the next election, the finance minister did not make any categorical reply. "I do not know...I am not feeling well," said Saifur, 77, who has been suffering from complications of the prostate.

"Saifur Rahman is unhappy with the present leadership's behaviour towards him in the squabble with a junior leader," a BNP leader said, preferring anonymity. "This is another reason if Saifur Rahman withdraws himself from politics," he added.

The PM did not take any disciplinary action against Ilyas despite an assurance to Saifur due to what the party sources described as "pressure from the young leadership" of BNP led by its Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman.

Asked about the ongoing conflicts between the party's senior and junior leaders, Saifur told the TV channel, "Many of our founding leaders are not with us today...the reason may be conspiracy [against them] or they may have quit willingly."

Although the senior leader welcomed new leadership in the party, he said, "You all know it better how the party runs and it is the chairperson's authority to decide how she will resolve the crisis."

"I have told the prime minister that I want to resign. It cannot go on that the young boys in the party should hurl abuses at me or disrespect me," Saifur was quoted earlier as saying in his interviews with the TV channels and newspapers.

BNP sources said Saifur's quitting would be the latest in the incidents of seniors' defeat to the junior leaders blessed by Tarique Rahman, also the PM's eldest son.

"The discord between the leaders who have been with the party since its foundation and the young ones is not new. It surfaced after Tarique Rahman came to the party's influential position," said a BNP leader.

Supporters of Saifur in Sylhet have already started demonstrations to prevent the finance minister from resigning, holding a number of meetings in Sylhet and Moulvibazar in the last couple of days.

Ilyas' supporters, however, termed such demonstrations and Saifur's resignation threat a strategy to put pressures on the BNP high command.

"The resignation threat is just a strategy to put pressure to ensure Ilyas Ali's expulsion," said a BNP leader of Sylhet. "Saifur Rahman is worried about his son Naser Rahman's future in the party and considers Ilyas an opponent in the district's party politics," he added.