The Congress was not alone on Tuesday when it opposed the CIC order to bring political parties under the ambit of the RTI, the CPM and the JD(U) also was of the same view.
On its part, the CPM said the government should discuss the matter with political parties so that suitable steps can be taken to preserve the integrity and role of the political parties in a democratic system.
The CIC in its order held that six national parties-Congress, BJP, NCP, CPM, CPI and BSP-have been substantially, though indirectly, funded by the Central Government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.
However, an argument has been put forward that the elections laws, norms and procedures of the Election Commission under which the political parties come, are geared towards providing “level playing field” for all. Hence, no single political party or group of parties can be brought under an act in isolation and create an imbalance of sorts.
The BJP while welcoming the CIC order in fact said it was not against anything that brings transparency and accountability, which is “equally applicable” to all. “We will follow the law,” the party’s spokesperson Captain Abhimanyu said, giving a formal response.
But, its ally the JD(U) seemed totally opposed to the move. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav lambasted the CIC for issuing misguided orders. “We are totally opposed to the move. The order cannot be justified in any manner as political parties are not shops,” he said, asserting that he was “astonished and shocked”.
Giving by far the most elaborate response, the CPI-M said the CIC order is based on a “fundamental misconception about the role of political parties in a parliamentary democracy. It will interfere with and hamper the functioning of a political party.” The CPM was also of the view that opponents of a political party could utilise the RTI as an instrument to destabilise a party. “Given the serious implications of this order on the political system”, the government should open dialogue with political parties to counter the move.