With political parties enjoying government’s largess, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has approached the chief information commissioner (CIC) to declare them 'public authorities' so that they could be brought into the purview of right to information (RTI).
The political parties had refused to furnish details of their funds and their sources to ADR on the ground that they were not covered under RTI.
In a representation to the CIC, the election watch group said the political parties, both national and state level, had been availing various governmental facilities like income tax exemption, free airtime during elections and land and house allotment in Delhi.
According to information, while the Congress topped the list of national parties in getting R300.92 crore tax exemption during three fiscal years between 2006 and 2009, the BJP enjoyed a concession of R141.25 crore. Other tax beneficiaries for the same fiscal years were the BSP (R39.84 crore), CPM (R18.13 crore), CPI (R24 crore) and the NCP (R9.64 crore). The Prasar Bharti (DD) has also been incurring heavy expenditure on free airtime facilities to parties during election. According to preliminary assessment done by the ADR, the free airtime provided to various parties during 2009 Lok Sabha and 2012 assembly election translated into substantial fund which Prasar Bharti had to forgo. While the Congress is estimated to have enjoyed this facility worth R8.42 crore and the BJP R6.38 crore, others like the BSP (R3.96 crore), CPM (R2.77 crore), CPI (R2.62 crore) and the NCP (R2.89 crore) were also benefited by the government freebies.
Moreover, the political parties had also succeeded in getting land from central government and housing facilities at very cheap rate. Interestingly, union urban development has a well-defined policy for the allotment of land in Delhi. According to a very conservative estimate by ADR, the value of land allotted to the Congress is R231 crore followed by the BJP (R117.35 crore), CPM (R50.75 crore), CPI (R16.91 crore), NCP (R13.6 crore) and the BSP (R27.20 crore). The ADR said the cumulative value of the land under possession of six national parties was R456.91 crore in Delhi.
The government had also spent nearly R8.9 crore on six parties in providing electoral rolls in 2009 elections. On CIC notice only the NCP and the CPI appeared for hearing. The CIC has issued fresh notices to other parties to present their submission before it.