The Communist Party of India (CPI) does not keep copies of its election manifestos, not even those pertaining to the last decade; perhaps indicating the general lack of seriousness political parties attach to election manifestos.

“All copies of earlier period (prior to 2009) are not available. Some of them are destroyed,” party general secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy said in reply to an RTI query seeking copies of manifestos pertaining to the general elections to the Lok Sabha from 1996 to 2009. He only furnished copy of the party’s manifesto for the general election in 2009.

General secretary of Kochi-based Human Rights Defence Forum D. B. Binu had made requests to all political parties under the RTI Act early in June this year for copies of manifestos, promises they had fulfilled and failed to fulfil and details of contributions received. However, only the CPI and the Aam Admi Party, floated by Arvind Kejriwal and others, replied to the queries so far. The Aam Admi Party said in its reply that the requested information was available on their website, aamaadmiparty.org

The CPI said that it did not promise any freebies in its manifesto and since it had never ruled India, the question of fulfilling the promises in the manifesto did not arise. “In our manifesto, we promise that our representatives will fight on the issues of the people like secularism, price rise, land, better wages, better facilities at work place etc. We always fight on these issues. Our party shared the UF Government with two ministers for a small period, but our party never issued any manifesto at that time.”

Contributions of above Rs. 20,000 listed by the party in the reply were from its own functionaries and feeder organisations. The party said that it was difficult to maintain list of smaller contributions as there would be many such contributions.

The Central Information Commission had held, in an order on June 3 this year, that six national parties—Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI (M), CPI and BSP, had been indirectly but substantially funded by the central government and had the character of public authority under the RTI Act because they performed public functions. The Commission had given six weeks time to them to designate public information officers and appellate authorities. Though the deadline ended on July 15, none of the parties had appointed public information officers. They had also not appealed against the order before the Delhi High Court. A proposal to bring legislation (Ordinance or Bill) excluding political parties from the purview of the Act also did not materialise.

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