Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Poush 30, 1421, Robiul Awal 21, 1436 Hijr

Does the phone call, or no call, really matter?
Published : Tuesday, 13 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 21

Mohammad Ali Sattar
Whether the phone conversation between Khaleda Zia and Amit Shah took place or not does not really bear importance in our daily lives. However, the hype raised over the matter has caused considerable impact over our drought stricken politics.
We have bigger issues, superior subjects for discourse. We just cannot go dwarfing ourselves in the global arena by taking up the 'foreign connections' as noteworthy in our national politics.
Our politics have been suffering from acute drought and famine, hence the new hype of this telephone conversation. More so, the people are least interested in these distasteful overtures by the political parties.
In addition, people are tired of listening to this entire clamour, but the party members do not tire in carrying out senseless debates for years together. Their frenzied deliberations would surprise any sane individual. Their indomitable spirit of combating over trifling issues is something that deserves kudos.
Coming back to the telephone talk, the immediate aftermath was yet another funny situation brought forth by a few over enthusiastic TV channels. They went all out to prove that the BNP's claim was untrue.
We heard the voices (aired on TV channels) of the lady journalist from Bangladesh and BJP chief Amit Shah denying the BNP claim about the telephone conversation.
The BNP office has been categorical in its stand that the talk had taken place and Amit Shah did enquire about Begum Zia's well being in confinement. Given that the statement was true, would the sky fall?
Telephone conversations between top leaders of the world have been an old practice ever since the telephone came into use.
One would find interesting telephone conversations between head of states or political and social personalities at different times in history. Rather these practices are a regular exercise, and the leaders find it an expedient mode of communication to resolve problems, deliver their messages soft or tough, and express solidarity, condolences and thoughts of personal well-being.
Unfortunately, in our system our two top leaders had just one telephone talk, that too in a different perspective and with different anticipation. Until date, we carry the unhappy memories of the talk between Begum Zia and our honourable Prime Minister.
If the BNP is looking for ways to create stunts and newer tactics to win support or attention of the foreign powers or the sympathy of the people, this is nothing new in our politics. We have been a little reliant on foreign friends for obvious reasons.
Foreign missions in Dhaka and representatives from various international bodies have visited Bangladesh many times in the past to mediate between political parties. So there has been the practice quite regularly followed by all groups. (By now, it has become part of our political tradition).
How far would the Amit Shah conversation do good to the BNP and help better its position remains to be seen. To me, nothing much is likely to happen.
The pertinent question would remain as to why Amit Shah denies holding of such talk, if at all any such talk took place. Maybe Amit Shah was persuaded to make the call or was made to answer the call by the BNP office. Maybe he did enquire in good faith.
Amit Shah was not ready for the kind of uproar raised in the Bangladesh press and political corridors centring on the alleged telephone conversation. Maybe the BJP boss decided to deny to avoid further controversy. Maybe, may be.
On the other hand, maybe, the talk actually did not take place. If that is true, then the BNP will be in a further tongue-tied situation. It will have to find new and convincing answers to these false claims. It will have to resort to further falsehood to cover up the current one. In the process, the party will stand to lose its credibility to a great extent.
As for the ruling party and its leaders, they swooped on the news without even stopping for a while to ponder over the issue. They came running all guns firing. Why?
What is the big deal even if the talk had taken place? Is it not a normal practice under diplomatic norms for some top leaders from a neighbouring country calling up a former PM to enquire about her health?
The government should have taken it in normal stride. The best reaction would have been, "So what''?
It really does not matter if anyone from anywhere calls up the interned BNP chief. It also matters little if any calls come to the PM, because either we do not pay heed to their advice or they do not deserve such honour we sometimes try to bestow on them.
Not only did the whole episode make us a laughing stock before the world; it also uncovered the chronic poverty of our political minds and practices.

Mohammad Ali Sattar is Editor, GNN and Sports Times and a columnist

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