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Political parties owe us answers

In the past few years, the city has witnessed a flurry of mass movements. The upheavals over the Lokpal Bill, public outrage over the Delhi gangrape, eye-popping figures from scams in which top leaders of the nation were involved — the population’s faith in the sanctity of democracy was shaken. Against this backdrop, the decision taken by three-member Central Information Commission (CIC) to make all political parties answerable to queries under the Right to Information Act is¬†revolutionary. It could be a game-changer for the future of our nation.

Political parties virtually run the nation, wielding power over large sections of society. They have the liberty to decide their ideologies, and then change them.

They can choose their stance on specific issues, and then discard them. Bewildered commoners have no channel through which to question their erratic moves. The parties enjoy the liberty to agitate, provoke, celebrate — what they want, how they want to. The general public has no way of asking them why they aligned themselves with one political party, only to join another in a matter of months.

These parties get huge donations from industrial houses and business groups, but the details are kept under wraps. Thanks to the CIC’s decision, details of such transactions, and data regarding party expenditure, can be sought under the RTI Act.

Ministers are routinely heard saying that their decisions will be determined by the diktats of ‘the party’s high command.’ If this is true, then the common people deserve answers directly from these parties, and not just their representatives in the State.

Only time will tell how political parties respond to this decision — and what ways they choose to get around it.
 

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