It is irrefutable fact that the Centre, by filing an affidavit saying that the political parties should not be brought under the ambits of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, has shown its consent to laundering the black money in the country. Some political parties have already decided that the political parties need not provide accounts for donations of amounts up to Rs 20,000.
Presently many political parties have been accepting donations of lakhs of rupees from big businesses for election funds and dividing them into parts, each of Rs 20,000. Each of these parts are shown as donations by bogus people. Thus amounts of unaccounted amounts of lakhs of rupees are being laundered.
Presently the political parties are maintaining some restraint because they are afraid of the RTI Act. However, the possibility of political parties collecting donations of lakhs of rupees and laundering the money by showing it as amounts donated by bogus people cannot be ruled out if they are excluded from the ambit of the RTI Act.
During election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji had promised to bring the black money back from abroad in 100 days and deposit Rs 15 lakh in account of each citizen. The black money stashed abroad was not brought back. Moreover, it can be said that now attempts are on to allow some political parties to launder the black money in the country by excluding them from the ambit of the RTI Act.
Ever since our country became a republic, the citizens have become owners of the country. The citizenry owns the government treasury. Therefore, being owner of the country and its treasury, every citizen has the fundamental right to know where and how the money is being spent. This is why RTI Act has been enacted. Political parties get many concessions from the government. This means they get money from public funds. Therefore, the citizens must have the right to information about that money. A number of agitations pressing for the RTI Act were staged in Maharashtra from 1995 to 2002. Maharashtra was the first state to enact the legislation in 2002 and later in 2005 the law was made by the centre too.
Under such circumstances, why today, ten years after the RTI Act was enacted, the government has apprehension about the misuse of the act?
In fact, political parties not only collect donations of lakhs of rupees but also get concessions from the government. The pertinent question is as to why special audit of such political parties is not carried out by the election commission. Every paisa that a party has must be audited. If all organisations and institutions in this country are audited, why political parties should not be audited? The central government’s argument that the RTI Act will be misused for political one-upmanship is not justifiable. On the contrary, people are being mislead because of the fear that if political parties are brought under the ambit of the RTI Act, they will have to provide the accounts to the people and would not be able to launder the black money.
Nobody will be able to misuse the provisions of this Act if the political parties and government machinery upload on their websites the information on 17 points they need to disclose mandatory under section 4 of the RTI Act. These 17 points would contain so much of information that once it is disclosed, nobody would be required to seek any further information. Isn’t the government aware about these 17 points under section 4 of the Act? Is it misleading the citizenry intentionally?
Exclusion of political parties from ambit of Right To Information Act is murder of democracy. During the election campaign, this government had promised time and again that once it comes to the power, it would give priority to fight against corruption. Its election agenda too contained this promise. The RTI Act might not have ended the corruption. But the irrefutable fact it that it has curbed corruption to a large extent.
Exclusion of political parties from ambit of the RTI Act at a time when the political parties are infested with corruption is a pointer towards the government turning its back towards the promises it had made during the election campaign.
The difference between the earlier government and this government would have been clearly visible had it had the will to curb corruption. However, even today no work can be done without paying bribe. The corruption has not reduced even after the change in the rule. The fact is that the prices are increasing instead of decreasing because of the increasing corruption and life has become difficult for people. Under such circumstances, what is the difference between this government and the previous government? There was hope that concrete steps would be taken to address the problems faced by the people in their daily life and to curb corruption and price hike. However, it did not happen. The promises of implementing the One Rank One Pension scheme, providing one and a half times more value to agricultural produce compared to the production cost, curbing corruption to some extent by implementing Lokpal and Lokayukta Act have remained unfulfilled.
People agitated all over the country between August 16, 2011 and August 24, 2011 to press for the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act. Lakhs of people came on to the streets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji is not unaware about it. Many ministers in the present government were then playing the role of the opposition party. The parliament passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act by overwhelming majority on December 17, 2013. The president too has given his consent to it. All that the government of Narendra Modi Ji was required to do was to implement that Act. However, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act has not been implemented though one and a quarter year has passed since the change of the rule, Even appointment of Lokayukta in every state on the lines of Lokapal would have curbed the corruption in the country to a large extent. However, the government is not acting to curb the corruption.
The government insists on implementing the Land Acquisition Bill that is unjust to the farmers by issuing ordinance although the farmers from all over the country are opposing it. Ordinance in this regard has been issued on three occasions. However, unfortunately the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act is not implemented although it has been passes by the parliament. All political parties must be brought under the ambit of the RTI Act because the citizens have the right to get information all organisations, which receive money from government treasury. If this government plans to exclude political parties from the ambit of the RTI Act, people have no choice but to launch agitation on the streets.
In fact the peoples’ parliament is superior to the political parties, election commission and central government. Therefore, the opinion of the peoples’ parliament, which means view of every voter in the country, must be taken into consideration. The voter is the real owner of this country and the government treasury. He has fundamental right to know where his money is being spent. Therefore, exclusion of political parties from ambit of RTI Act is insult to democracy.
Under such circumstances, I will be launching hunger strike at Ram Leela Maidan, New Delhi on October 2, 2015 which marks the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. I appeal to the people who have same views to participate in this agitation.
K. B. alias Anna Hazare)