Congress opposed to being covered under RTI Act; BJP sees no wrong

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New Delhi:  Barely 24 hours after the Central Information Commission (CIC) came out with its landmark order placing six major political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, parties from across the spectrum in a rare show of solidarity came together and showed the red flag.

The Congress, which had cited the RTI as one of its major achievements in UPA I, today said that "political parties are private organisations, and hence outside the RTI."

The JD(U), the largest alliance partner of the BJP, said that the Election Commission was there to oversee political parties and another boss was not needed. Speaking to journalists, party chief Sharad Yadav said, "RTI is not a dukaan (shop), political power of parties is being undermined by this UPA government."

The Left, which has always prided itself on being transparent at least with its sources of funds, today said that "there was a misconception that political parties were public authorities and that their internal processes were open to public scrutiny."

The BJP, however, took a more nuanced stand, saying that the party was not opposed to sharing more details of fundings and accounts, but it also added that while the party would welcome any step towards more transparency, it must be equally applied on all political parties.

Campaigners including the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Subhash Agarwal, both of whom had filed the complaint before the CIC, today said that political parties should see this as a positive step and move towards restoring public faith by welcoming RTI over their functioning.

They have, however, also filed a caveat in the Delhi High Court in a bid to protect the ruling and preventing political parties from securing a stay without hearing the petitioners first.

The CIC has given political parties six weeks to appoint information officers to start accepting RTI requests.

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