New Delhi: This should not raise any eyebrows as it was expected. Five of the six national parties have refused to divulge details of those who fund them. In fact, they claim that they are beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
In response to an RTI query, all national parties, with the sole exception of the Communist Party of India (CPI), refused to divulge details of the money they received.
Anil Bairwal, who is the National Coordinator of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said, "Political parties speak of probity in public life, but they themselves refused to give us details about theirs sources of funding."
The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) replied to the RTI notice saying that they didn't fall under its purview, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not bother to do even that, i.e. give a reply.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has now asked the general secretaries of the parties for an explanation and has set September 26 as the deadline.
The ADR has claimed that all political parties receive benefits like subsidised party offices, ad time on air and Doordarshan, and various other tax exemptions, and hence should be under the purview of the RTI Act.
Whether the CIC will uphold their request or not, will be clear on September 26.
The fact remains that political parties have once again exposed their unwillingness to publish their funding details.