Political parties collect not only donations from people but also funds from companies and business houses. Hence the public has the right to know the source of their funds and other matters through the Right to Information Act (“Govt. moves to keep parties outside RTI,” Aug. 2). It also has the right to seek information on internal deliberations of parties on policy matters, organisational decisions and selection of candidates to field in the elections. The government’s move to amend the RTI Act — to nullify the Central Information Commission’s order bringing six national parties under its ambit — is unfortunate.
This is not the first time that political parties have united to dilute the Act. In 2006, the government sought to restrict the disclosure of file notings to social and development issues. It was only under pressure from rights activists that it dropped the amendment. The RTI Act’s journey has never been smooth.
The UPA government took credit for passing the RTI Act, which it claimed was a transparent mechanism that would empower citizens. That many legislators have a criminal background and political parties continue to give them the ticket to contest elections and make them policymakers is well known. It is time to bring the parties under the RTI Act. Criminalisation of politics cannot be eliminated but can surely be reduced if political parties are forced to share information about their candidates. People have the right to information on their candidates.
It is unfortunate that all political parties have come together to nullify the CIC’s order on bringing them under the RTI’s purview but have reservations on supporting the food security bill. This shows what their priorities are.
Our political parties stand exposed. They have arrived at a ‘consensus’ to exclude themselves from the RTI’s purview. The fear that an opponent can destabilise a party is ill-founded. Are the dealings and conduct of parties so shady and fragile that an information seeker can rock their boat? The purpose of the RTI is to encourage transparency. The government’s move will only lead to an increase in murky dealings and unbridled corruption in political parties.
Keywords: RTI Act