Political parties under RTI: From BJP to Congress who said what

Aiming to lift the veil of secrecy from the funding sources of the country's political parties and their expenditure, the central information commission (CIC) ruled on Monday that the parties are public authorities, and therefore need to respond to RTI inquiries within six weeks.

Responses so far have ranged from wildly optimistic (RTI activists) to reserved, no-comment reactions (wary politicians); as well as a "been there, done that" tweet from Arvind Kejriwal. Here we compile the reactions from across the board for you.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

"Whether political parties should declare their assets to CIC is a decision for the Election Commission to take."

 

Reuters

Reuters

Shakeel Ahmed, Congress spokesperson

 

"If CIC has already put out a ruling, what more can we say to it?"

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi

"We haven’t seen the decision and we will respond to it after reading it."

Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister

"There is a logic of the RTI, which is periodically reflected in its orders. That logic of the RTI act would be gradually tested at all levels including at levels of the courts. But it is important to keep practical control of RTI objectives because they can't be allowed to run riot as the purpose is that people who hold public offices must be accountable to the world and to ordinary citizens.

There are other areas one can go and seek information, but for that one has to go through a procedure. It is an evolving process - a balance between public interest of one kind and of another kind must be maintained."

Anil Bairwal, leading member of the National Election Watch to the Wall Street Journal

"This is a landmark judgment because our political parties have been very resistant to becoming more transparent. This will make them more accountable. The CIC has done an excellent job by looking at the facts, including the huge amount of funding, direct and indirect, which parties receive. Parties will have to respond to requests for information about their funding streams, where they get their money from and how they select their candidates.

It would be much easier for them if they comply and make declarations on their websites rather than having to respond to individual requests. At the moment, all they have to declare to the Election Commission is income of over 20,000 rupees ($350.) A lot of parties receive millions of rupees but don’t declare it."

Trilochan Sastry, leading member of the National Election Watch to the Wall Street Journal

"This is wonderful news; we have been fighting for it for two years. The RTI act was passed by Parliament in 2005 and nobody thought through all the implications of what would happen if different bodies, including political parties, were subject to it. It was neither prohibited nor mandated [for political parties to comply], it was left open.

Parties are going to get really jittery; they are going to be up against the wall with questions about funding and how they select their candidates. But the people of the country have a right to know."

Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General, Jiji Thomson

"We don`t want match-fixing to take place in cricket. Cricket has such a good set-up and why to spoil the entire beauty of the game with such wrongdoings. The spirit of the game has suffered. I am of the view that BCCI should come under the RTI act."

Zoya Hasan, a political analyst and professor at the Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University to Mint

"In principle and in the interest of transparency, it is important that political parties come under RTI. It would call for more transparency in an opaque political system where the masses know only what is put out to them. Political parties will certainly object to it."

RTI activist Subhash Agrawal to ANI

"Political parties coming under RTI Act is a very important decision by honourable Central Information Commission (CIC) through its full bench and it will have far reaching implications. Now, a citizen can inquire anything, which is not covered under exemption clauses of Section 81 with the political parties and they will have to respond like all other public authorities have to respond and it will bring transparency and accountability in their functioning."

Nikhil Dey, an RTI activist and member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information

"It is a very important decision, but what remains to be seen is...how proactively do they (the parties) actually do it."

And here are some reactions from Twitter:

 

 

 

 

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