The latest mail by Change.org which demanded my action was to save the existing Right to Information (RTI) act from amendments being made. As I am writing this piece chances are that the bill would be introduced in the house and it would be passed without any fuss.
For those who are not aware, a bill to amend the RTI will be passed in the Lower House by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, V Narayanasamy which will keep political parties out of the ambit of the transparency law. The Union Cabinet has already cleared a proposal to amend the RTI Act to give immunity to political parties.
In the month of June, the transparency watchdog Central Information Commission – which ensures the RTI Act is implemented and public queries are answered by government departments – had held that the six national parties including the ruling party Congress and BJP have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government. Hence they were given six weeks to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) to handle RTI requests.
The decision of transparency faced a stiff criticism from the Congress party which is credited for the RTI act. Political parties have maintained that the Representation of the People Act and the Income Tax Act provide sufficient transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties. Hence, there is no need for further transparency.
Besides this, the proposed amendment would also mean that educational institution and hospitals, amongst several others who acquire land at subsidised rates and funding less than 51% may go out of the purview of the RTI Act.
#SaveRTI trends on Twitter
With no political party talking about the amendment, RTI activists, Aam Aadmi Party and netizens have taken up the issue on Twitter. In fact according to a story from HT, some 35 MPs mostly from the BJP party including the likes of Navjot Singh Sidhu, Najma Heptulla, etc. along with Trinamool Congress will be speaking against the amendment.
On a day when #FekuExpress, #ChennaiExpress are trending, a hashtag like #SaveRTI has less visibility but it is still holding its position in India’s Top Trends.
The tweets that are making a buzz are:
— Janlokpal (@janlokpal) August 12, 2013
How dare corrupt politicians say we can’t question them? They are our employees! Wake up!! If we let this happen, we are to blame! #SaveRTI
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) August 11, 2013
Why pol parties running away from accountability. They want to run this country and cant be left unaccounted. #saverti
— Avinash (@avinashiitd) August 12, 2013
I am sure all parties will get this anti RTI bill amended for their CHORBAJARI #SaveRTI
— parasmani (@Parasmaniji) August 12, 2013
— Aarti (@aartic02) August 12, 2013
It is very rare when we have seen the online media forcing the government to change its course. This is for the simple reason that the fraction of people on Twitter or for that matter on the internet is less in percentage.
Wonder if the citizens of the nation are watching, since at a time when transparency is required not a single party barring a few has come forward. Why are the Indian political parties scared to be transparent if they’re doing nothing wrong?