Planning Minister MA Mannan has said that it was not appropriate for Foreign Minister Abdul Momen to issue a demi-official letter (DO) in favour of five Sunamganj MPs.
He said, "The foreign minister is my next door neighbour. We are from two neighbouring districts as well. We participate in the same cabinet meetings. Before sending the DO letter to the railways minister, he could have called me over the phone. But he did not."
The planning minister was speaking in response to a question from reporters at a press conference held after the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting on Tuesday.
In the last few days, tension has been brewing between the two ministers over the probable route of the proposed Chhatak-Sunamganj railway line.
On 10 June, the foreign minister wrote a DO letter to Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan, saying that the demand of five Sunamganj MPs regarding the probable railway route was reasonable. In the letter, the foreign minister requested the setting up of the proposed railway line from Chhatak-Doarabazar-Sunamganj Sadar to Mohanganj.
On 14 June, the foreign minister posted a status on Facebook in this regard. The planning minister responded to his cabinet colleague's Facebook status.
"Some of the honorable parliament members of my district are not very happy about my stance on some issues. It can be so. They went to the foreign minister and he sent a DO letter to the railways minister in support of those MPs. I do not think it was fair," said the planning minister.
Mannan said there are six MPs in Sunamganj. "He knows very well that I am also an MP from Sunamganj, because we have been friends for 50 years. However, nothing terrible happened. There was just a misunderstanding between us. I do not think there is any big difference of opinion between the two of us."
The planning minister said, though, that he was surprised why the foreign minister had written the DO letter without talking to him.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said he will talk to his "old and solid friend" Planning Minister MA Mannan about why he supported the idea of a railway connecting Chhatak with Sunamganj and Mohanganj.
Momen said he wrote the letter to the railways minister "with an open mind" after five lawmakers from Sunamganj requested him to back their proposal.
"They (MPs) requested me. I wrote the letter with an open mind as I want connectivity. I should have talked to him (Mannan). I have no conflict with him. I shall speak to him. I feel sorry about it," Momen told reporters at his foreign ministry office.
He said he was surprised at the discussion on social media over his letter to the railways minister. He said he had no information about the "internal politics" of Sunamganj, but he had favoured connectivity only.
"It appeared to me that what the five lawmakers mentioned was logical," Momen wrote in his letter to the railways minister.