A government embarks on its journey by forming the cabinet. It makes the decisions of the government and implements them later. However, the prime minister forms another small cabinet or kitchen cabinet with his/her reliable and close ones. All the crucial and sensitive decisions of the government are made through this cabinet. The culture of a kitchen cabinet is prevalent across the world. It is an accepted method in a democratic country. The members of the kitchen cabinet play a key role to overcome the party and state’s various problems and crises. They are the policymakers of the government. This time when the government came to power for the third consecutive term, the heavyweights were excluded from the cabinet. So, the question is, who are in the kitchen cabinet?
The kitchen cabinet has kept a very strong position from the beginning of democracy in Bangladesh. After the fall of dictator Ershad, BNP came to power in 1991. At that time, Saifur Rahman, Lt. Colonel (retd) Mostafizur Rahman, Maj Gen (retd) Majid-ul-Haq, Barrister Nazmul Huda and Tariqul Islam were the members of Khaleda`s kitchen cabinet. Awami League came to power in 1996. In the kitchen cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, there were Shah AMS Kibria, Mohammed Nasim, Tofail Ahmed, Amir Hossain Amu, and Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir. BNP-led alliance came to power again in 2001. Khaleda Zia became the Prime Minister for the second time. However, two kitchen cabinets were visible at that time. One cabinet belonged to the prime minister and the other one was Hawa Bhaban. Saifur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Barrister Nazmul Huda and Tariqul Islam were present in the Prime Minister`s kitchen cabinet. The members of the kitchen cabinet discussed many policy-related matters and strategies of the government.
Sheikh Hasina`s Awami League came back to power again in 2008. That time, Awami League formed the new cabinet excluding the heavyweights of the party. There was also a kitchen cabinet there. She consulted them on many important issues and told them many important decisions beforehand. At that time Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Begum Matia Chowdhury, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, and Barrister Shafiq Ahmed were in the kitchen cabinet. Awami League formed the government for the second consecutive term in 2014. Changes were made in the kitchen cabinet. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith and Begum Matia Chowdhury were only from the old leaders. AHM Mustafa Kamal, Obaidul Kader, and Anisul Huq joined as the newcomers.
Awami League has formed the government for the fourth time winning by a huge margin in the 11th parliamentary election. The new cabinet has already passed one month. This time, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is discussing important issues with some of her close and trusted ministers. She is talking to them about the various strategies and methods for managing the government. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader is one of them who is believed to be the seond most powerful person in Awami League after Sheikh Hasina. Former Planning Minister and current Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is also in the kitchen cabinet. The finance ministry is a major ministry of any government. Prime Minister`s confidante Mustafa Kamal has broken the tradition by appointing the finance minister outside of Sylhet. Law Minister Anisul Huq is in the kitchen cabinet to advise the Prime Minister on many issues like Khaleda Zia’s cases and extradition of Tarique Zia. Although the current Education Minister was a minister in 2009, she was later removed. Still, she did not leave the company of the Prime Minister. Since then, the Prime Minister shared many things with her. She is also in the kitchen cabinet. The present government is giving importance to diplomatic issues. International events such as the Rohingya issue came forward. Bangladesh initially set an example of generosity but now its policy is `enough is enough`. Bangladesh has declared not to shelter any more Rohingyas. Former Ambassador and Foreign Minister Abdul Momen is in the kitchen cabinet to advise the Prime Minister on these issues.
The idea of a super cabinet is being established as far as the modern state system outside the kitchen cabinet is getting complex and tough. The super cabinet is formed with those persons who do not hold any important posts and the common people do not know them.