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Political parties admit need to strengthen RTI and NREG Acts

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Public court: The scene at the public meeting organised in New Delhi on Saturday by People’s Action for Employment Guarantee and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information to hold politicians accountable for the Right to Work and Right to Information in their election agendas.
Public court: The scene at the public meeting organised in New Delhi on Saturday by People’s Action for Employment Guarantee and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information to hold politicians accountable for the Right to Work and Right to Information in their election agendas.

Staff Reporter

But choose to remain non-committal and refrain from going into specifics

NEW DELHI: They spoke from the same platform, assured of action by their respective party, and yet when it came to listing the exact plan of action, they chose to remain non-committal.

At a day-long public meeting here on Saturday, politicians cutting across party lines agreed that there is a need to strengthen the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and the Right to Information (RTI) Act, but refrained from going into specifics.

Representatives of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India and the Janata Dal (Secular) were speaking at the event organised jointly by People’s Action for Employment Guarantee and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information to hold politicians accountable to the Right to Work and Right to Information in their election agendas.

The party representatives were unanimous in agreeing that the number of work days guaranteed under the NREGA be increased from the present 100 days per household per year and that corporates too be brought under the purview of the RTI to ensure that deceptions like the recent Satyam scam are brought to light.

Congress representative Sudarsana Nachiappan said anyone from his party who opposes the NREGA stands to oppose the Congress itself. Expressing confidence that his party will return to power, Mr. Nachiappan said “efforts will be made to take forward the employment guarantee scheme”.

When confronted by activists that a Congress MP in Jharkhand had opposed social audit and prevented them from taking stock of the situation, Mr. Nachiappan sought more details and said the matter would be reported to the authorities concerned. He declined to comment on whether the party would hold the MP back from contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Danish Ali of Janata Dal (S) said the party supports the demand for an increased duration of minimum work days under the NREGA. He regretted that the concept of contractors still exists in the rural set-up. He also called for more transparency in the process of appointing information commissioners of States and said the nation’s progress is linked to the empowerment of the rural population.

BJP’s Prakash Javadekar said the judiciary too should be made answerable to the public and should have no reservations about declaring their assets. He too called for making the corporates more accountable under the RTI and referring to the recent suicide bid by a family in Delhi said urban poverty is a reality that needs a more holistic approach.

CPI secretary D. Raja said the party’s manifesto included the demands put forth at the Jan Manch and that his party wants education, health care, housing and employment to be made fundamental rights.

Hundreds of people attended the event demanding changes in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Right to Information Act.They also demanded constitution of a national council for RTI to monitor its implementation, selection of information commissioners in a transparent manner and ensuring transparency in the private sector.

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