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Political Parties Reject RTI Extension, Leaving Citizens as Spectators in the ‘Indian Democracy’

Questions arise about political parties' complicity in sustaining corruption and the need for transparency in funding.

In a disheartening display of unity, political parties in India, regardless of their ideological differences, have come together once again, this time rejecting the extension of the Right to Information (RTI) act to include them. This raises concerns about the perpetuation of politically institutionalized corruption and the lack of transparency in their funding sources.

Looking back, the ruling Congress and opposition BJP joined forces in 2010 to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 1976 after a revelation by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) about foreign donations. This maneuver allowed them to protect unlawfully obtained foreign funds, highlighting the questionable tactics employed by the country’s major political players.

Fast forward to the present day, and the refusal to be transparent continues, as all major political parties, including the ruling BJP and opposition Congress, express reluctance to come under the purview of the RTI. This leaves citizens questioning their right to know how political parties are funded and whether they truly have the nation’s best interests at heart.

The Potential of RTI Extension: Enhancing Democracy’s Backbone

The extension of the RTI act into political parties could have played a pivotal role in enhancing India’s democratic structure. The multi-party system, inherently linked with the nation’s democracy, often faces challenges such as nepotism, horsetrading, and the lack of transparency in candidate selection.

By embracing the RTI, voters could have gained insight into the reasons behind a party’s choice of candidates and the factors influencing these decisions, be it money-power, caste connections, or merit. This transparency would empower voters to make informed choices and hold parties accountable for their internal workings and governance.

Political Parties: Public Authorities or Private Entities?

The ambiguity surrounding the status of political parties as either ‘public authorities’ or ‘private entities’ adds to the complexity. While they present themselves as public authorities during election rallies, they conveniently switch to private entities when faced with scrutiny, raising questions about their true nature.

Electoral Bonds: A Veil of Anonymity for Political Funding

Political Parties Reject RTI Extension, Leaving Citizens as Spectators in the 'Indian Democracy'

The issue of untraceable donations through electoral bonds further adds to the opacity in political funding. While stringent verification is required for large transactions in banks, donating to political parties through electoral bonds allows individuals to contribute large sums anonymously.

According to a report by ADR, a significant portion of national parties’ funds in India comes from undisclosed sources, with the BJP receiving a substantial amount through electoral bonds. The lack of transparency raises concerns about conflict of interest and the potential influence of anonymous donors on political decisions.

As citizens reflect on their trust in politicians and the democratic process, the words of Andrew Napolitano resonate: “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch.” In this scenario, citizens find themselves in the role of the lamb, urging for greater transparency and accountability in the Indian democratic circus.


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