Friday, June 7, 2013

Transparency a taboo for our parties

The response of politicos to the CIC’s decision bringing political outfits under RTI Act has been along expected lines
BY DEVBRAT ROY CHAUDHARY
THOSE who have advocated a clean- up of Indian polity have hailed it as a landmark ruling.
The Central Information Commission has held that political parties are public authorities for the purposes of the Right to Information Act and therefore under an obligation to divulge information to the public regarding their functioning and finances.
Predictably the political parties, which have hitherto functioned under a veil of secrecy, have slammed the ruling. All sorts of arguments, ranging from the specious to the bizarre have been put forward in defence of their stand.
Politicians of the scam- tainted ruling Congress have led the charge, with one party spokesperson going as far as to describe the order as an assault on democratic institutions. There is even talk of the Right to Information Act being amended to ensure that political parties are specifically excluded from the RTI’s ambit.
This is not difficult to understand.
As things stand today, parties can function exactly as they please, with no or little regard for accountability or transparency. While the big political parties have huge incomes, the rules are such that questions cannot be asked about the sources of most of this money. It is a merry arrangement this one and ensures that black money can be used to further the designs of Indian parties.
Perhaps the fault lies not with our political parties but the CIC which has failed to take into account their true nature. For political parties today are more of private enterprises that are in the business of winning power than organisations existing for public welfare. Dominated by a few individuals who have scant regard for democratic procedures, it is no surprise that being called public authorities is repugnant to them.

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