Our news people will never learn how not to mix business with pleasure. They have done it again.
While reporting last week on the much-hyped nominations for the reserved women's seats in parliament, which undoubtedly is serious business, they mentioned simultaneously on TV and the print media that the WMPs shall not be allowed to import duty-free cars, which is sheer pleasure. Not any more.
Some of the nominees reacted sharply and quite visibly on camera, one even hinted at a movement (to get the car and protest any wrong doing) while another very sensibly said that the car was not at all a factor. We would like to believe that the latter is the majority. This also goes to show that some of them are not so sensible. Here I do not mean the news people.
On the momentous day of submitting nomination papers, the chosen ones should have been talking about issues that affect our country, particularly the women. The occasion was historic because the delayed elections have materialised after many ifs and buts, including a court case. Some of those ladies who were preferred to the rest, and the rest are now restless, could have mentioned as their open agenda, as opposed to those which should have been hidden, matters like equality for women workers, social security, bar on early marriage, freedom from sexual harassment, dowry, education, job opportunities, mother and childcare, childbirth fatality, and other issues that the nation and their respective party expect them to raise in the House.
When journalists popped up the question of cars, duty-free, importable or not, they should have looked at them hard, eyeball to eyeball, for five long seconds and said with goveer gravity, 'Don't you people have anything better to talk about?' or niden pokkhe 'How can you be so insensitive?'
It is obvious that these dedicated party diehards have a lifelong contribution, and they had to contribute even more now, who knows how much more, and the only reason they decided to become a member of parliament was for the sole purpose of serving the nation, particularly the women folk of their respective elaka. So why bring up the trivial issue of a car? These journalists!
One of the respondents facing the camera after submitting her nomination papers did make a pertinent point that if they were not allowed THE car how (on earth) will they ever go to their elaka; to perform their sworn duties, one assumes. Point is valid, very valid. Even if there be aeroplane, rail, air-conditioned bus, steamer and air-conditioned launch, one can really reach to the heart of the people in hot and humid areas by using the elaborate road network on an a/c car. There is the boat, but not plying everywhere, and they are not as fast, nor air-conditioned. Also, you can actually now drive across some rivers even during the monsoon. Rather convenient one must note. Despite the strength in the argument, someone put in a wet towel by reminding us that the WMPs-elect were first and foremost selected from amongst a bevy of possible candidates on the basis of their jatayat to the elaka. One is overcome with sympathy for the ladies because it must have been very difficult without the imported car.
Come to think of it, MPs should actually need a transport to visit the capital for official business and sessions, and not the reverse, because they are supposed to be permanently stationed in their constituency, their elaka.
Several years ago a Commonwealth Scholar pursuing PhD in the UK on a topic favouring Bangladesh was infuriated because the books he required for research were not available there, although he had them back home, meaning Dhaka. He was about to file a complaint with the authorities. Only when a well-wisher reminded him that his position may prompt the Commonwealth Commission to send him back home, as he was better off there academically, he kept quiet.
In keeping with their lifelong commitment for the cause of the downtrodden, our MPs must each be given more than one vehicle, if you ask me, so that each can decide which hospital in their elaka needs an ambulance, which women's college needs a bus, which area needs essentials urgently, which people require relief.
With all these vehicles doing such magnificent work, come the time the people's reps require to visit the capital, there will always be some grateful citizen ready to do the honours, even if other modes of transport are unavailable. Therein would lie the popularity and acceptability of a person off the people, buy the people and far the people.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005