Prime Minister at Odds with Sonia Gandhi

on RTI Act Issue

 Media reports suggest that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is currently at odds with Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the issue of amendments to the Right To Information Act. Under stiff pressure from the civil service bureaucrats Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who himself is a bureaucratically inclined person seems to be yielding to bring about amendments in the RTI Act to protect the bureaucrats fro accountability for their acts of mis-governance and corruption. The RTI Act could not have come about but for Congress President Sonia Gandhi's persistence and her virtual command that such an Act should come into force. Reports suggest that Sonia Gandhi has written to the Prime Minister advising him against diluting the provisions of the RTI Act by amending it. Reports also suggest that the Prime Minister seems to be adamant on the issue and is inclined to go ahead with amendments advised by his bureaucrats.

The Prime Minister is not renowned for defying the Congress President's wishes and if he does so it would be the first time in his two tenures that he would be so acting. Further it suggests one of two things that either the Prime Minister in his second term feels that this time he assumed the office on the strength of his personal credibility and also that Sonia Gandhi is losing control over the Congress Party. The latter is unlikely.

Indian public opinion had to struggle for a long time to force the introduction of the RTI Act. It was being bitterly opposed by the civil bureaucrats as their accountability was being called for to improve overall governance. Lately there have been pressures that the judiciary or at least the Chief Justice of India should be kept out of the purview of the RTI Act.

Under this Act an ordinary citizen of India had recourse to seek information on a vast variety of subjects from the bureaucracy and other officials where things were being inordinately delayed or people were sitting on decisions which were in public interest. Access under this Act gave access to notings on Government files which would then give away as to where governance had failed or decisions misapplied.

In fact the RTI Act had put the fear of God in India's bureaucracy renowned the world over for its lethargy and corruption or even shirking from taking rightful decisions.

If media reports are true that the Prime Minister is averse to Sonia Gandhi's advice not to carry out amendments to the RTI Act and that the Prime Minister digs in his heels then it would be in order for the Congress President to seek a change of Prime Mister.

Dr Manmohan Singh may be an outstanding world-famed economist but as India's Prime Minister he has failed in India's foreign policy formulations with particular reference to India's formulations on approaches to Pakistan and peace with Pakistan at any cost. In fact the Prime Minister has displayed a noticeable obduracy on sticking to his formulations on Pakistan even when overwhelmingly the rest lof India thinks otherwise.

India has very widely given credit to Sonia Gandhi for forcing through the passage of the RTI Act and winning the respect of the Indian people for the same. The Congress President would be well advised not to allow the Prime Minister to dilute the Act by introducing amendments which would dilute the very spirit which brought about the introduction of this Act and that too under pressure from a meddlesome bureaucracy avoiding accountability.


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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