When the whole world knew that Teesta deal was not being signed, Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni insisted before the media that the agreement would be signed. Her reaction was recorded when Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on September 5 through a press briefing stated that the Teesta agreement would not be possible this time because of West Bengal Chief Minister’s last minute objection.
This clearly reflects how much ill-informed or how little she knew about such deal making. “We can not expect more than this from one of the most inefficient ministries, the foreign office of the country” commented a newspaper reader online.
A Dhaka daily observed with sadness that Bangladeshi journalists were chasing their own officials to get information, papers or any sort of briefings to file reports when the Indian officials were frequently meeting with the visiting Indian newsmen, briefing them about the developments both off-the-record and on-record and thus keeping them updated.
After the official talks and signing of the MOUs, there was no instant press briefing at the PMO. The Foreign Minister was otherwise busy to avoid the press in an apparent bid to protect her ignorance. She left the country on the following morning for Germany on another mission.
Perhaps, our ministers and bureaucrats do not have the courage or qualification to take the national media into confidence on important national issues. In fact, a system to keep the media informed on important events concerning foreign policy or visiting foreign dignitaries is absent in the government. In the absence of such a practice, none of the officials dare to take the responsibility to brief the media. The result: loss of the government’s credibility.
In keeping with the past tradition, our government officials have exposed their inefficiency in handling the important visit of Indian Prime Minister that culminated in signing of a series of framework agreements and MOU’s concerning bilateral interests.
Actually the onus to keep the media informed on Manmohan’s visit was left with the Prime Minister herself and two of her Advisors. One of them, Dr Gawher Rizvi, had earlier told the press that the drafts of the agreements would be discussed in the cabinet. But they were not presented before the weekly cabinet meeting last Monday, the day before Manmohohan’s visit began.
A ruling party insider pointed out that veteran politician Abdur Razzak, who as the then Water Resources Minister had signed the Farakka water sharing accord during last Awami league Government, was not involved in the process this time. He is now the Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Water Resource Ministry and he not included in the negotiating team. He said Razzak was out of the country during the whole negotiating period and also visited India for some time.
When the programme was on the verge of collapse as the West Bengal CM declined to join Manmohan’s entourage, Prime Minister Sheikh Hsina sent her personal friend journalist Baby Moudud to persuade Mamata Banerjee change her mind. Baby Moudud travelled to Kolkata and met Mamata Banarjee carrying her message. While acknowledging her closeness to Hasina, Mamata stuck to her gun.
When the affairs of the state are not handled professionally, and national issues are considered as private venture; the opposition, the media and the people in general are ignored, the country can not expect anything better than what happed last week.
“This is yet one more example of the confusion and inefficiency that is rife at the top levels of the country’s government. Despite so much hype and fanfare, the whole episode was badly bungled from the outset. Perhaps Gowher Rizvi, who has been so prominent during the last few days in the media, will now provide an explanation,” demanded an online reader.
By : Abdur Rahman Khan.