Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin, who was fired from his ministerial job Thursday, dismissed the allegation of taking bribes from private airlines in exchange of nominating them as the carriers of non-ballottee hajis as baseless and said that it had no relation to his resignation, reports UNB.
"It (the allegation) is just a propaganda to tarnish my image and that of BNP," he told a questioner. He said that during the last four years he had been honest to his position.
Talking to reporters at his Minto Road residence Friday morning, the former State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism claimed that he had resigned on "health and personal grounds."
Asked if he was asked by the Prime Minister to quit since because of his failure to resolve the controversy over non-ballottee Hajj fare, he said the "decision of my resignation was completely personal; I resigned because of my health condition."
He added, "As I was feeling that I was unable to perform my duty properly as the state Minister, I submitted my letter of resignation."
Replying to a question, Mir Nasir hoped that Biman Bangladesh Airlines and the government would smoothly organise safe flights for the non-ballottee Hajj pilgrims this year.
Mir Nasir said that a meeting of the Biman Board decided the plane fare of US$ 1,150 for non-ballottee Hajj pilgrims following the price hike of jet fuel in international market. Representatives from the Finance and Communication ministries as well as other ministries attended the meeting.
He said that when the jet fuel price was 26 cents per unit it was affordable for Biman to carry Hajj passengers at US$ 950, but after the fuel price rose to 56 cents per unit it was extremely tough for Biman to arrange the flights at the same fare.
"We were successful in resolving the problem as the Saudi Arabian Airlines agreed to carry the non-ballottee pilgrims," he said, adding that some 63,000 non-ballottee pilgrims are expected to be carried by Saudia and Biman this year.
Asked whether Biman is a failed organisation, the former State Minister said Biman has an efficient administration at present.
He said Biman paid about Tk 9.29 billion to Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) from November 2001-2004, compared to only Tk 3.21 billion paid to BPC during 1996-2001. "This is an example of the success of Biman Bangladesh," Mir Nasir said.
BDNEWS from Chittagong adds: The firing of the three cabinet members, all from Chittagong, evoked mixed reactions in the political circles here.
The latest firing of the state minister for civil aviation and tourism Mir Mohammad Nasir Uddin from the cabinet was the talk of the port city Friday.
Mir Nasir is the eighth minister to have been axed since the coalition government of Khaleda Zia formed her 60-member cabinet on October 10, 2001 after wining the general elections with an absolute majority.
With Nasir, three cabinet members, including Engineer LK Siddiqui, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury were dropped from Chittagong in nearly four years rule of BNP led alliance government.
Earlier, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, LK Siddiqui, AKM Mosharraf Hossain, Harunar Rashid Khan Monno, Redwan Ahmed, Ahsanul Haque Mollah and Ebadur Rahman Chowdhury were dropped from the cabinet.
The ruling BNP leaders and activists viewed, though Chittagong was blessed with so many ministers in comparison with other parts of the country, they were shown the door for their utter failure in discharging the task assigned to them by the Prime Minister.
A top city leader of BNP said Mir Nasir is the worst performer among the cabinet members from Chittagong.
A number of city leaders preferring anonymity said that the dropping of Mir Nasir from the cabinet will brighten the image of the government.