The majority of political parties this year joined hands to absolve themselves of both transparency and accountability. Transparency by pushing for amending the RTI Act to exempt political parties from its purview and accountability by exempting political parties from the purview of the lokpal bill.
"It is surprising that our political parties which have the constitutional validity do not want to be either transparent or accountable to the people. They want to ensure that they don’t come under the new law which makes them answerable to the people," Venkatesh Nayak, transparency campaigner at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said.
Nayak, with other civil society members, was speaking to journalists on the parliamentary standing committee report recommending exemption of political parties from the purview of the RTI law.
He added that in the original Lokpal Bill the government had brought any association of people which accept donations like political parties and NGOs under the ambit of the ombudsman. The standing committee exempted religious organizations and charitable trusts from the purview of the section. The government went a step ahead and got an amendment approved from Parliament deleting the section for political parties.
"Not a word was uttered on the amendment in the Parliament when the Lokpal Bill was passed," Nayak said, adding that the parties want to rule people but were not willing to come under people’s scanner.
Anjali Bhardwaj of National Campaign for People’s Right To Information (NCPRI) said political parties should agree to come under the ambit of the RTI Act voluntarily as the law seeks transparency for the ‘larger public interest’. She also asked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BJP leader Arun Jaitley to clarify their stand on amendment to the RTI Act.
Subhash Chandra Aggarwal, on whose petition the Central Information Commission brought six national political parties under the purview of the RTI Act in June, said he would challenge the validity of exemption to the political parties, if the government gets the amendments to the law approved by Parliament.