By Meghna Rathore:
Transparency is the central tenet of any democratic system. Any state is merely an arbiter of stability in a nation and by no means can a democratic state be dominant and treat the populace as its subject. In India the RTI act is something sacrosanct and is responsible for maintaining credibility. It’s a mechanism, largely adulated one at that, which empowers the common people making them invincible. The CIC’s current ruling about bringing the political parties within the ambit of the RTI act has spurred a gamut of arguments. Talking of the Congress party in particular, it is pretty ironical that the party that lauds and hails itself on providing India with the Right to Information Act, is expressing fervent aversion in accepting this current development.
At the Chintan Shivir, the scion of the Congress party said, “RTI gives every single Indian the right to personally take on the battle against corruption”. Well, if this were true, bringing political parties within the wider parasol of the RTI should be welcomed and not condemned. The opposition’s stand on the decision was no better. BJP, the party that leaves no stone unturned in taking pot shots at the Congress and holding it ‘accountable’, is not ready to accept the decision either. Now, when the entire political fraternity has been put to real test, the parties are inclined on choosing an expedient way out. Seeing the reactions, this decision came across not only as a courageous one but a subversive step as well. It might expose the mismanaged financial accounts of the parties.
This wide reach of the RTI is one of the much needed democratic reforms. Statistics quote that only 22% of the donation received by the BJP are through known sources. For Congress, it’s just 11.8% and for CPM the figures state only 1.29 % of the donations received through known sources. Morally, no party must operate on clandestine funding. The political big wigs argue that with such eclectic electoral reforms in place, this whole idea of extension of the RTI’s purview is meretricious. However, given crores of unaccounted turnover of all the parties, these arguments are nothing but futile.
So,if the system takes a step ahead in enhancing transparency, what is the harm? The only harm that can be anticipated is that the entire political faction could be brought to sheer ignominy. And after 60 years of having an efficient democratic system in place, this will be telling of the pathos of a democracy with loopholes that cannot be justified.