[Answered] “For containment of corruption and holding government accountable to the governed it is important to make political parties accountable under RTI.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Why Political Parties should be bought under RTI ambit?
Conclusion. Way forward.

Right to Information (RTI) Act has played role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the administration, empowering people with information and increase their participation in the governance of the country. Politicians are people’s representatives and it is important that they must be responsible and accountable to general public. Thus, it is important that political parties must come under RTI to uphold the principle of accountability and transparency.

Why Political Parties should be bought under RTI ambit?

  1. Elections are contested on party basis and Political Parties affect the lives of citizens, directly or indirectly and are continuously engaged in performing public duty. Thus it is important that political parties should be under RTI, to make them accountable.
  2. It is important to bring financial transparency, given that 75% of funds received by political parties today are from anonymous sources. This would help check corporate-politician nexus, role of black money and foreign influence.
  3. Bringing political parties under RTI would help to check corruption and nepotism within the political parties. This will be in line with the recommendations of ECI and Law commission for bringing Transparency in the political parties.
  4. Political parties under RTI would lead to informed citizenry and thus would lead to better decision making by the voters.
  5. Electoral Bonds which are launched to make elections fair and transparent are not promoting transparency in political funding as donors remain anonymous to public.
  6. Not only funding but expenditure made by political parties, especially during the time of elections should be made public. Currently in India, there is no ceiling on expenditure incurred by the political parties at the time of elections.

Way forward:

  1. Money should not be given to political parties as this creates a nexus between the funders and the political parties, thus affecting policy formulation in the country. Instead, a National Election Fund should be created for receiving the donations from people. The money received should be used for conducting elections.
  2. Eliminating the root cause of requirement of money i.e. banning election rallies and roadshows, but direct connect with people needs to be ensured.
  3. The ‘First Past the Post System’, in which a person with the highest votes (even with one extra vote) is declared winner, should be changed. Rather, a minimum percentage of total votes polled, should be fixed for declaring a candidate winner.
  4. Flow of black money into election process needs to taken care off.
  5. There needs to be a scrutiny of manifestos issued by political parties. Also, one or two months before elections, manifestos should be issued so that people can understand and discuss things mentioned in them.
  6. Electoral System needs to be such that a sitting MLA or an MP has to resign from the current seat before filing the nomination for the other seat. This will help in saving expenditure on bypolls.
  7. Even in case of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, a system is needed to tackle the dissolution of assemblies and vacancies that can occur during a ruling period.

Initiative from public is needed to make electoral reforms happen fast. Political parties play a significant role in the functioning of the democracy. It is important to ensure transparency and accountability in their working. Bringing them under RTI is one way to achieve this.

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