Ex-military ruler Ershad discloses his dream of provincial government; Bangladesh divided into 8 provinces

Former military ruler and Jatiya Party President HM Ershad MP Saturday disclosed his dream proposal for introducing provincial government system through dividing Bangladesh into eight provinces.

The former president presented his brainchild in a concept paper at a seminar at a city hotel, with the hope that the proposed provincial system of government would help effective run of the sprawling country of around 150 million people.

His concept paper contains the structures of Government and Parliament. The eight provinces will be run by as many chief ministers as heads of provincial government with its own legislative
assembly in each province consisting of 75 members. The provinces also have High Courts.

Ershad named the provinces as Uttarbanga, Barendra, Jahangirnagar, Jalalabad, Chattala, Mainamati, Jahanabad and Chandradwip.

“There is no alternative to implementation of provincial government system in the country for building a prosperous, self-reliant and economically developed country,” he told the seminar, organized by Provincial System Implementation Coordination Committee.

However, the JP president said although he placed the proposal as head of a political party, but the party itself has no view in this regard.

The former army chief, who had ruled Bangladesh for nine years until the 1990 mass uprising, made a clarion call for all political parties, organizations and involvement of people to make his dream come true as it is not possible to implement the proposal alone.

Ershad proposed that the country would have central government and provincial governments with separate assemblies of 300 members and 75 members each (total 600 members of the 8 provinces) respectively.

The central government would be a federal one. According to the proposal, the government will be administrated by national assembly, which will enact law, and provincial assembly,
whose function will be explanation of law, development of provinces and maintaining law and order.

Under the proposal, the President would be the head of federal state and the Prime Minister would be head of the central government in the parliamentary system.

HM Ershad hoped that the provincial government system would ensure balanced development in the country through decentralization of the administration which is centralized in the capital.
He said each province would have a High Court, which would function under the Supreme Court located in the federal capital, Dhaka.

There would be provincial governors to be appointed by the central government.

However, former adviser Dr Akbar Ali Khan said the administrative complexities would not go only through establishing provincial government without decentralization of power.

He also thinks that the constitution and finance would be major impediments to implementation of the provincial government.

“We have to change the total constitution to form the provincial government,” Akbar Ali said.

He suggested forming a constitution commission to bring about the changes.

Akbar Ali Khan said the provinces would be faced with major problems for financial sources.

Krishak, Sramik Janata League president Kader Siddiqui, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president ASM Abdur Rab, Kalyan Party chairman Major Gen (rtd) Muhammad Ibrahim and Bikalpa Dhara secretary-general Major (retd) Abdul Mannan attended the seminar and supported the proposal on provincial government.

JP leaders barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, GM kader and Ruhul Amin Howlader, former adviser and Independent editor Mahbubul Alam and Justice Abdur Rouf were also present at the seminar.

According to the proposal, the Uttarbanga Province would be constituted with the existing districts of Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh.

Its capital would be Rangpur, which is Ershad’s own hometown. Barendra Province would comprise Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon, Jaipurhat, Nawabganj, Pabna, Bogra and Sirajganj with Rajshahi as its
capital. Jahangirnagar Province would include Dhaka, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Gazipur, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Mymensingh, Netrakona, Jamalpur and Sherpur.

Mymensingh has been designated as the provincial capital. Jalalbad province would be formed with Sylhet, Moulavibazar, Sunamganj and Habiganj with the capital in Sylhet. Chattala will comprise Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Khagrachharhi, Rangamati and Bandarban.

Its capital would be Chittagong. Mainamati province would have Feni, Noakhali, Laxmipur,
Comilla, Chandpur and Brahmanbaria and the capital would be Comilla.

Jahanabad would constitute Khulna, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Jhenidah, Magura, Rajbari, Faridpur, Jessore, Narail, Satkhira and Bagerhat with Khulna as the provincial capital. Chandradwip would include Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalkati, Patuakhali, Gopalganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur, Bhola and Barguna, with the capital in Barisal.