Club Members say Gupta appears more like a wheeler-dealer
Delhi Crown Desk
New Delhi, July 17 (Delhi Crown): Prestigious journalists club – The Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia (FCC of South Asia), situated in New Delhi just opposite the Supreme Court of India, seems losing its sheen and reputation ever since non-journalist Munish Gupta got himself installed as the Club’s President last year.
It is learnt that Gupta is a non-journalist, doesn’t possess the PIB Card, runs a YouTube channel and throws his weight around in Central ministries, and among bureaucrats & diplomats, as a “foreign journalist”…!
A section of the Club members opine that Gupta appears more like a wheeler-dealer, than a journalist, as he is learnt to be working in close association with a business chamber…!!
Over the past one-and-a-half years, i.e. ever since Munish Gupta’s term as president began, the Club has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Be it the arbitrary removal of an employee and an elected Executive Member, or abruptly cancelling a scheduled press conference of a film producer, or resignation of Vice-President as a mark of protest against his autocratic style of functioning.
During Gupta’s tenure, which will end in March next year, the Club attracted bad Press after he abruptly cancelled film producer Vivek Agnihotri’s scheduled press conference in the first week of May on his much-publicised film “The Kashmir Files”.
First Gupta accepted the booking amount from Agnihotri, and then arbitrarily cancelled his presser over phone merely 48 hours prior to its scheduled time.
After the controversy (over cancellation of Agnihotri’s press conference) erupted, and much hullabaloo surrounded it, the Club’s Vice-President Emily Schmall, New York’s correspondent, resigned in a huff as a mark of protest against Gupta’s “autocratic style of functioning”.
Before Emily, two other elected Members – Ruth Pollard (of Bloomberg) and Elizabeth Puranam (of Al Jazeera) too had resigned, showing signs of no-confidence and disapproval against Munish Gupta.
Prior to that, in November last year Gupta had arbitrarily removed Pankaj Yadav who had been elected as an Executive Member on the Governing Committee in the elections held last year.
Hence, four out of the total eight elected-Members are out of the current Governing Committee….!
After Yadav’s unreasonable removal and three successive resignations, Gupta co-opted non-elected Members – Kumkum Chaddha, Sanjeev Miglani (Reuters) and Mohammad Aminul Islam (Bangladeshi paper Sangbad Sangstha), into his Governing Committee.
It has been learnt from the Club’s members that Gupta was always “uncomfortable” with Yadav who used to keep a “check” on the expenses happening at the Club.
“Yadav always insisted to have a look at the bills of the purchases made at the Club, but Gupta was always averse to it. So, he levelled a false charge of misbehaviour against Yadav and managed to get him expelled from the Club after telling a concocted story to other Governing Committee members,” said a Club member who has been an office-bearer in the past.
Here it is to be noted that Munish Gupta is the real brother of Manoranjana Sinh (the ex-wife of late senior Congress leader Matang Sinh) who was jailed for several months for her role in the infamous “Saradha Scam”.
Pankaj Yadav has had a stint as the Club’s Treasurer in the past. According to the members, he was instrumental in “reviving” the Club a few years ago when it was on the brink of being shut-down as a result of huge financial irregularities committed by a former lady Manager.
Yadav had caught the lady Manager red-handed while stealing money from the Club’s bank account. Subsequently she was removed from the service.
“Munish Gupta has the bad habit of taking decisions on his own without consulting other office-bearers or Executive Members on the Governing Committee. He wants to rule the Club single-handedly, according to his whims and fancies,” said a member on the condition of anonymity.
Besides, Gupta had in October 2021 removed the former Assistant-Manager Sanjeev Kumar Verma from service sans any valid reason. “I was arbitrarily removed from the Club after eight years of my service. Never ever was there any complaint regarding my work or behaviour at the Club. I am still not aware of the reason of my removal from the Club. Till date my accounts haven’t been settled. And, I am left to lead my life being hand-to-mouth,” Sanjeev Kumar told www.thedelhicrown.com
Only a couple of months ago the FCC of South Asia was served with an Eviction Notice by the Union Urban Development Ministry. As per the Notice, the Club’s premises need to be vacated by July 31 (this month end).
Earlier this week, on July 13, politics at FCC of South Asia took an ugly turn of events when a lawyer named Umesh Sharma beat up a senior journalist accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB), just at the gates of the Club.
According to the victimised journalist, at the behest of Munish Gupta, Umesh Sharma (who is not a member of the Club) called 4-5 goons dressed in lawyer’s attire and beat up the journalist without any provocation.
The said journalist has lodged a formal complaint against Umesh Sharma at the Tilak Marg Police Station. Sharma is said to be providing legal aid to the Club, and in return avail all the facilities of the Club, besides charging his fee.
Gupta was present inside the Club when the ugly incident occurred at the gates of the Club, and fled the crime scene after the police arrived, said a source at the Club.