Guwahati: Indian Journalists Union (IJU) expressed happiness that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has extended the postal ballot facility to the journalists in poll-bound Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala. Addressing the long-pending grievance of media persons the ECI has introduced a provision for postal ballot facility for the first time bringing journalists under the essential services voter category, said a statement issued by IJU president K Sreenivas Reddy and secretary-general Balwinder Singh Jammu. Mentionable is that ahead of assembly elections in four states and one UT, the ECI has allowed postal ballot facility for senior citizens above 80 years, people with disabilities, Covid-19 positive (also suspected and quarantined) individuals and persons employed in essential services to enable them to vote. Media persons (authorized by ECI for the poll day) have been brought under the essential services category facilitating them to exercise their franchise. The IJU office bearers called on the media fraternity to utilize this opportunity and participate in the electoral process, the sacred duty of all in a democracy. Earlier, Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) also appreciated the ECI for granting postal-ballot facilities to media persons under the specific category where other beneficiaries include the employees of electricity, health department, telecom, railways, aviation, fire, ambulance, shipping services, etc. Various journo-bodies across the country were demanding the postal ballot facilities to scribes as thousands of media employees could not vote for their professional duties on a particular day. First, most of the media workers based in the city are non-natives and they had to move to their home town or villages on the poll day. Secondly, many of them had to perform their duties on the date of polling. “The media persons often missed the opportunity to exercise their voting rights as they cannot leave the workplace on the poll day and thus a large number of valuable votes had gone unnoticed,” said JFA president Rupam Barua adding that it is now the turn for media persons to show sincerity for the newly introduced ECI opportunity.
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