Guwahati Press Club Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Elections were conducted in Assam’s Guwahati Press Club (GPC) after a gap 17 years on Thursday for constituting a new committee to take forward the club and assist in the growth of journalists from the region.

A total of 36 candidates, including 8 women, are in the fray for 10 posts, of which two are reserved for women.

The voting process was completed by 4 pm with a strong turnout of voters who queued since 8 in the morning. Of 816 GPC members eligible to cast their votes, more than 600 had already cast their votes till 2 pm. The counting of votes will start at 5 pm.

Speaking with EastMojo, Sushmita Goswami, UNI bureau chief, who’s contesting for the post of organising secretary, said: “If I am elected, then I will help in constituting a vibrant and active press club which has all the facilities that a press person needs to discharge his or her duties.”

For women journalists, she said, “The number of women journalists in Assam, and Guwahati in particular, has increased manifold over years, but we don’t have specific facilities. Basic facilities are missing like proper toilets, proper food place, or somewhere we can take our kids when we go for our duty.”

Goswami said that she wants to start off with the basic things and once we are more organised, especially the women journalist, “then we can press for better representation and more gender equality, especially in the newsrooms”.

Another candidate, Sanjay Ray, who’s working for The Assam Tribune, is contesting for the post of general secretary. He said, “If elected, we as a team will work for the overall development of the press club, especially its members, and we will ensure that GPC provides social security to each and every member and work for their overall development.”

He said that they are also pressing on the idea of health insurance schemes for journos because there are health hazards coming up every now on then, especially in fieldwork.

Senior PTI journalist Tridip Lahkar said that seeing elections take place in GPC is a welcome move. “We always report about democracy, we talk about democracy, but within our press club there was no democracy for the last 17 years. It is a great thing that finally we are able to get democracy in Guwahati Press Club,” he said.

On why there were no elections or annual meetings in one of the most prominent press clubs in Northeast India, Lahkar said that if we want to blame, then the last outgoing committee was to be blamed, as for 17 years there was no general body meeting, no clarity on accounts, also, GPC is said to be not registered till now. “Simultaneously, the general members are to be somewhere held accountable as they we were accepting things the way it was going on,” he said.

Lahkar added that 75 journalists submitted a memorandum seeking that the democratic process should start, which has now resulted into the elections.

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