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Jun 06, 2013 at 05:23pm IST

CIC order may disrupt internal party discourse: Nilotpal Basu

While certain RTI activists have asked for political parties to come under RTI, almost all political parties are united in their opposition to this move. All functions of a party and minutes of all meetings can't be disclosed, they say. CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on why political parties should not come under RTI.

Q. The other friendly CPI and strong opponent TMC have welcomed the CIC order. Are they not well informed and have arrived at a wrong decision? Asked by: sundar1950in

CIC order may disrupt internal party discourse: Nilotpal Basu

Why political parties should not come under RTI.

A. This is a question which ought to be answered by the concerned parties. It will be unfair on my part to answer on their behalf. I am entitled to only articular our rationale for the standpoint that we have stated.

Q. The Feeling that EC had not sufficiently acted in curbing wrongs in political parties ( including buying votes ) is making this CIC order a welcome one. Do you see EC getting more proactive and deal firmly? Post TN Seshan parties have breathed a relief? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I don't agree with the premise of this question. Over the years and particularly in the recent times, the requirement of transparency for the political parties have grown on the basis Model Code of Conduct enforced by the EC.Importantly the EC has been empowered on this count by the political parties themselves through a consensus. Why should the parties be held responsible for doing /not doing what they are supposed to and empowered to. On one count the Government should be held responsible;the parties have evolved a consensus on including paid news as electoral offense,which is still pending.

Q. Leave RTI, why Political Parties are not showing d list of person/organisations who fund them be it Rs. 20 only. Asked by: Ashu

A. This is unwieldy, already in our income returns and periodic statements to the EC we are providing details about all donors who contributes to the tune of Rs.20000. If one is suggesting that by donating Rs. 20 that individual is influencing decisions of public bodies -I think it is weird. And there is an additional risk, in the present phase of politics of vengeance and retribution, the information could be used to unnecessarily harass that small donor.

Q. Dada, with all due respect to you-may I ask, are politicos governing incredible India are above the law or the holiest cows. Why political parties are against the move. Asked by: Rajiv Azad

A. Nobody is above law ,nor should they be. We have been insisting that all information regarding the funding of political parties which we are filing to the IT Department and EC should be made available in the public domain. But according to our constitution, a political party is not a public body-it is a voluntary association of individuals bound by ideology and programme. The current CIC order has the potential of undermining the confidentiality of internal political-organisational exercise of its members.

Q. Divided by ideology,united by threat? What is the threat perceived by other parties? Does it go along with same reasons you have. Are you not likely to help by default others who have not so good reasons to be away from the ambit of RTI? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. We are for making the information for funding of a party which is mandatorily made available to the IT Department and EC be made available in public domain. But the present CIC order has the potential to disrupt and undermine the internal discourse of the political party which is not a public body but a voluntary association. We have, therefore, urged the Government to discuss the implications of the order.

Q. Any information hidden is always seen with suspicion. While strategic issues need not come under RTI, source of funds, utilization of funds invariably must come under RTI. Asked by: S ESHWAR

A. Funding is not hidden . Parties have to submit statements to the IT department and EC . We have no problem in bringing that in the public domain; in fact we have been suggesting that. But the internal political organisational exercise and to conduct that in confidentiality is a right of polities given that they constitute a body of individuals who have volunteered to be part of that collective on the basis of ideology and programme.

Q. In Democracy you may have majority and get yourself out of RTI, by enacting an amendment to the RTI. Is that on the anvil? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. We have asked the Government to convene a meeting to discuss the fall out and implications of the CIC order. It is in such a meeting, if at all, any further step can be contemplated.

Q. You have been advocating accountability by everyone at all platforms. Your party need not be accountable? The party does not work just for it's members. The party works for the General public who support your ideologies and elect you to hold public positions. Is your party a private organisation? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. We are accountable. We submit details about our finances. Our party wor securing the interest of the public , particularly the vast majority of the poor and working people. But we are a group of individuals who have come together voluntarily on the basis of ideology and programme-and in that sense we are not a public body.

Q. As a Law maker having supported and argued based on informations obtained under RTI, keeping the political parties out of the radar exhibits lack of confidence on ethics within parties. Why different yardsticks? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I think this is misplaced. Public bodies are duty bound to provide information. Political parties are not funded by taxpayers money. But their funding information is available with IT and EC. They ought to be made available. But why should political parties disclose about its internal discourse on organisational matters? Such issues can always be used for disruption.

Q. Sir,a different question. A lot of law makers have business activities/professional practices. Doesn't it tantamount to conflict of interest? Don't you think time has come to define it more strictly? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. Absolutely, I could not agree with you more.

Q. Is it disclosing funds received by political parties above Rs.20000 to EC a loophole of the law? Many parties are deceiving the EC by stating they have received the amounts by only below Rs.20000.. One party submitted the details to the EC in the year 2010-11,in that it stated it haven't received the amounts exceeding Rs.20000 though the total amount is more than 100 crores. Asked by: Vinod K R

A. That is for the EC to get to the bottom of the matter and find out the truth.

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