‘RAHUL MUST WALK THE TALK ON RTI’

Activists want his party to appoint a Public Information Officer and start giving information, saying citizens will certainly appreciate
this move for transparency

‘RAHUL MUST WALK THE TALK ON RTI’

Mumbai : Right to Information (RTI) activists say Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi must walk the talk on RTI by appointing Public Information Officers (PIOs) for his party.

They were reacting to his comments on RTI in his televised interview on Monday night, where he professed that he was for greater transparency and for bringing RTI into as many places as possible. In fact, he mentioned `RTI’ as many as 33 times in the interview.
Rahul had said that there are questions about the RTI that needed to be discussed and thought through. “The real question is that our system is based on different pillars. And the question is which ones of these pillars should have RTI.
“Because, if you only put RTI into one pillar and you don’t have RTI in for example the judiciary and the press and in other areas then you might create an imbalance.
“Am I for opening up? Am I for bringing RTI into as many places possible? Absolutely. Am I for creating an imbalance and weakening the legislative structures of this country? No, I am not,” the Congress vice-president had said in the interview.
Former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has pointed out in an open letter to Rahul that going by the law and the Central Information Commission’s interpretation of it, the judiciary and political parties are covered by RTI.
“The judiciary has accepted this. Since some political parties do not wish to follow the law, they are proposing to amend the RTI Act,’’ the former information commissioner said.
Urging the Congress leader not to support this move, he said, “Get your party to appoint a Public Information Officer and start giving information. Citizens will certainly appreciate this move for transparency. If you do not do this, it would be disowning the position you took in your interview.’’
The former info panel chief reminded the Congress leader that he mentioned that citizens should be concerned about how candidates are selected. “Once you accept RTI, you will set the lead and other political parties will have to follow suit. This will also lead to citizens’ understanding how candidates are selected for elections,’’ said the former information commissioner, who is back to being a RTI activist.
Bhaskar Prabhu of the Mahiti Adhikar Manch has seconded Shailesh Gandhi’s suggestion. Another RTI activist, Anil Galgali, said that the Congress takes credit for ushering in the RTI Act but is not doing enough to take it to the masses.
“Why restrict one RTI query to 150 words, why allow only one query per application, why keep so many posts (of information commissioners) vacant, why prefer retired bureaucrats as information commissioners,’’ Galgali said.

Anil Singh

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