Guwahati, November 25: With the curtains down on the life of Tarun Gogoi, Assam’s longest serving chief minister, the media here will miss an affable leader who was always available as their source of news, held discussions on political situations and even sought opinion on how best he could serve the people.
The veteran Congress leader was a journalists’ delight for long – since as far back as 1971 when he was first elected to the Lok Sabha at the beginning of his about 50-year-long political career.
Senior scribes of that time to the young brigade now recollect that Gogoi, who passed away on Monday, always valued the role of the media in a democracy to report on the development and welfare schemes of the government and plans for the public to take informed decisions.
They could approach him any time of the day and Gogoi, because of his natural affable self, had endeared himself to the journalists.
Most of them are experiencing a sense of personal loss after Gogoi’s death on Monday due to post-Covid complications.
They remember that even when he helmed the state for three terms from 2001 to 2016, the ever smiling leader was always available to the journalists no matter how busy he was with the innumerable affairs of the state.
Many scribes remember how some of them would sit around his table during press conferences 34 years ago when Gogoi was the president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee and how he would later inquire about their families.
He carried on this interpersonal relationship till the end of his term as the Assam PCC president, to his years as the chief minister from 20001 to 2016 and beyond.
The media here during the period expanded exponentially from a few newspaper publications in the ’80s and ’90s to a number of dailies, TV news channels and digital media and the fraternity grew to include hundreds of journalists.
Gogoi, a quintessential people’s representative, knew them personally and held one-to-one discussions with them on how best he could serve the people, whether his government was making mistakes and how they could be rectified. He would gracefully accept when pointed out the mistakes made either by his government or the Congress.
During his days as chief minister Gogoi was not known for vindictive acts by halting government advertisements to media houses when its reporters riticised him or his government.
He believed that government decisions of public interest should be immediately shared with the people. Gogoi as chief minister would call press conferences almost every week and speak of his government’s schemes.
Even when in opposition after Congress lost to BJP in 2016, Gogoi continued with his regular press briefings pointing out the shortcomings as perceived by his party.
Many reporters remember that half an hour interview appointments with him would often extend to as long as two hours as he spoke on issues beyond the prepared questions.
Gogoi would ring in every new year during his 15-year chief ministership by inviting journalists on January 1 for traditional Assamese lunch in his official residence and interact personally with each of them.
Said Mrinal Talukdar, a veteran print and electronic media journalist and author, “Tarun Gogoi not only remained the people’s chief minister but till the last he was the most popular political leader”.
Sanjoy Ray, a senior journalist with Assam Tribune and general secretary of Guwahati Press Club, said, “He (Gogoi) was a straight forward politician. As a CM he would never mince his words, which is what made him very newsy. It was fun covering his press conferences and events.
“I, for one, never found him ducking any questions,” he added.
Sushant Talukder, editor of prominent digital Website NEZINE said, ” Tarun Gogoi was easily accessible to all journalists n- senior and young, photo and video journalists.
He never shied away from any critical question by any journalist.
“Rather, he used to seize the opportunity to articulate a prompt political response. His press meets often extended to long informal conversations which helped us understand many nuances of politics and governance. He would always pick up the call at any time for a formal exclusive quote on important and developing stories. We have lost the most media-friendly chief minister we have ever come across”.
Sushmita Goswami, Bureau Chief of UNI here recollected ” Tarun Gogoi was always accessible to the media, particularly when there was any trouble like a law and order situation or important political development. Many politicians avoided media at such times, but he was always ready to speak.
She also remembered him for not differentiaing between senior or junior reporters while taking questions during his press conferences and had a response however uncomfortable the question was.(PTI)