Bringing “Political parties under RTI Act”, will empower the ordinary Joe, but empowerment will not be direct.
I sometimes wonder, how much news on Indian News Channels is Paid News. I wonder this, as no matter which news channel you view, you find the panel debates missing the most important points and barking on the irrelevant ones. The latest ones under scrutiny are the ‘Political parties under RTI Act’ Debates.
Now there may be three reasons for such a state of things:
1) Channel’s pressure to make every issue citizen centric
2) The Anchor has done his/homework well, or
3) The channel is paid to raise and vouch for irrelevant points.
How else, points which ordinary people like us can think of, are totally ignored by the Anchor?
Interestingly, most of the debates on this topic are stressing on how bringing Political parties under RTI Act will benefit the ordinary Indian. The Anchors on these debates are claiming that doing so will empower the small fund givers question the political party as to how the collective funds are being spent.
This is nothing but misplaced logic.
RTI may have empowered the common Indian citizen to question the Government and its entourage about the resources, money and other. But those questions seldom apply in the fund giver-political party interactions. Fund givers of political parties, give funds for two reasons. One, is for the ideological support. Second, is for gaining some favour, when that political party comes to Power. Hence, when we speak of bringing Political parties under RTI Act, we must understand that, no fund giver to a political party will ever ask on how it’s being Spent. Thus we will have to use another logic here.
If bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’ has to benefit India; then instead of emphasizing on the sources of small funding; the provisions of the act must empower the citizens to question the political party on the sources of big funding. Big funding sources means sources which give funds in millions, such entities are Business Houses, Corporates, expatriates, International Non-governmental Organizations, foreign countries etc.
The need to pin such big funding sources is necessary as small funds like party membership neither make for much for a political party nor it results in any personal impropriety on the part of the politician and the political party. It’s the big funding which results in impropriety, as big fund givers not only seek immediate favour once the political party comes to power, but also sway the long term policy decisions of the Government. Thus bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’ and making public its fund sources, will bring transparency in Indian Political System. Only when big funding sources are nailed and the favour in return is made public, the common Indian will benefit. After all no business gives money to a political party for philanthropy!
Will bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’ bring transparency in Indian Political Establishment?
Although any attempt at empowering citizens ask questions to public people, brings a level of transparency in the country; still it will be better if such an attempt is made in the right direction.
I think rather than bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’, the country must contemplate on bringing a “Lobbying Bill” in the country.
Lobbying is basically the effort put in by the political parties get funds, and by the businesses & other fund givers get the favour in return of the funding. Whether legal or illegal, political parties and businesses in every country do lobbying. Niira Radia, made infamous by Tata Radia Tapes, was a corporate lobbyist, acting as a intermediary between the politicians, political parties and the Corporates. In countries where Lobbying is legal (like in USA), Radia may be seen as a professional. Here in India, she was witch hunted.
The benefit of a Lobbying Bill can be extensive in India. For instance, if the funding sources and the accumulated funds to a political party is recorded and made public, then the citizens can instantly know,
Why Tata supports Modi as PM?
Why Adani Group scaled heights under Modi’s regime?
Why DLF managed to get prime land in Haryana during Congress regime?
Why Ford Foundation USA funded Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO raise the issue of Lokpal? etc.
Who may be behind some riot?
The latest TV panel debates on bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’ appeared to miss many important points. They not only derailed and made trivial an important debate, but also prevented the viewers from understanding the issue better. That part, the debates have once again proved that the Indian media’s fascination for common man (middle class) often makes them myopic. As in the case, bringing ‘Political parties under RTI Act’, will empower the ordinary joe, but empowerment will not be direct.