Voters chose ‘greater accountability’ in one case, ‘administrative harmony’ in another

In a strong message to political parties, who have shown rare unanimity in expressing their unwillingness to come under the Right to Information Act, the dominant section of India’s voters have said they want this to happen, for ‘greater accountability’. At the same time, voters do not want to disrupt ‘administrative harmony’ and believe the centre should retain control of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

CNN IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker Survey, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, interviewed close to 20,000 respondents across 18 states in the country. The survey asked two political-administrative questions in the wake of recent debates on the extent of information that should be provided by political parties about their finances and operations to citizens, and political disputes over the nature and role of CBI.

When asked if political parties should be brought under RTI for ‘greater accountability’, 46 percent respondents nationally agreed. Opposition was limited to only 12 per cent, while the rest did not offer an opinion.

56 percent urban and 43 per cent rural respondents supported the proposition. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters are more supportive, with 56 per cent of the party’s voters wanting parties under RTI as compared to 48 per cent Congress voters and 44 per cent voters of other parties who support the clause.

CBI under centre

On another key political issue, even as the Supreme Court has asked steps be taken to ensure the CBI’s autonomy, voters are inclined to allow the centre to retain control of its key investigative agency.

When asked if CBI should continue to be under the ‘central government in order to maintain administrative harmony’, 35 per cent of the voters agreed while 21 per cent disagreed. But in an indication that the matter was a distant concern for voters, 44 per cent did not have an opinion.

48 per cent urban, and 34 per cent rural, respondents wanted to allow CBI to remain under the centre. Supporters of national parties tend to have a favorable view on the matter, with 40 per cent BJP voters, and 38 per cent Congress voters agreeing with the assertion. Only 32 per cent of voters from other parties, however, agreed. Smaller regional parties have often complained of how the centre has misused CBI to score political points.

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