(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
India’s political parties are united, for a change. It’s not over women’s safety or how many poor people the country has. They have closed ranks against moves to make parties accountable under the Right to Information (RTI) law.
The Cabinet has asked for changes in the RTI Act that, once approved by parliament, would exclude political parties from being covered by it. In other words, the Congress-led government wants to amend the very law that it once championed.
The government also opposes a recent ruling by India’s Supreme Court that bars jailed politicians from contesting elections and disqualifies them if convicted. A senior government minister told reporters on Aug. 1 that leaders of various political parties criticised the court ruling, which is seen as an affront to the supremacy of parliament.
Apart from a few reports in the media, there has been little public outrage over political parties scuttling attempts to bring in more transparency ahead of the 2014 parliamentary elections.
“These issues do not directly affect the people, partly because the information does not reach ordinary people,” said Yogendra Yadav, an expert on election results aligned with anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party).