The need of transparency in a democratic setup is quintessential to keep up the spirit of democracy. However, transparency has been systematically trampled in democracy in many democratic nations including India. Barack Obama in his farewell speech cautioned not to take democracy for granted. The citizens should be actively engaged in the affairs of the government and its decisions to keep the spirit of democracy alive.
However, this is not what is happening in India. There is no political party in India that wants to bring the functioning and the funding of the party under the ambit of democracy. Narendra Modi, who brought some ground breaking reforms such as, demonetization and GST, promised reforms in this regard, but backtracked later on.
The opposition parties may have been differing ruling NDA on policy issues, but when it comes to expanding the ambit of RTI, the level of consensus is jaw dropping. The reasons given against the RTI expansion by all political parties including BJP, INC and CPI (M) has been feeble and escapist to say the least. The snooping and spying’ and ‘interference in internal affairs of parties’ are their concerns towards the RTI expansion.
The filing of the IT returns by the political parties that they submit to the Election Commission of India is enough to be accounted for, as per their claims. However, the money estimated to be unaccounted in the period between FY 2004-05 and FY2014-15 has been an astounding amount of Rs 9278.3 crore. It shows the level of hypocrisy that the political parties presents. On one hand, the common men are harassed for every rupee they earn, while thousand of crores of rupees are channelized to the political parties without any accountability.
The nationalized parties such as, BJP and Congress have the lion’s share of the unaccounted incomes. These two parties’ share of the total estimated unaccounted income of the political parties has been 78.19 percent. The unaccounted money means 100 percent tax evasion from the money they receive.
With so much money at stake, scrutiny cannot be an option for the main nationalized parties, such as, Congress and BJP. BJP brought in demonetization as an overnight event that upside down thousands of crores of rupees. If they wanted, they could have brought the reforms in RTI as well. Their avoidance of the same smells their entire drive against corruption as more rhetorical than of substance. Modi is not as big a reformist as it seems. Much of it is mired in hypocrisy and eyewash. BJP or the NDA, in fact, is little different from their peers and it has been proved time and again.