NEW DELHI: The Right To Information (RTI) bill proposing significant changes to the transparency law is set to pass the Rajya Sabha test despite the opposition’s objections, with the government bringing the fence-sitters on board.
Sources say non-aligned parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) have agreed to support the RTI bill.
“We will support the RTI (Amendment) Bill… It is not correct to demand that all bills be sent to the Standing Committee or Select Committee,” YSR Congress leader Vijaysai Reddy told.
“We will question the government about our concerns and if we get a satisfactory response, we will think about it,” the BJD’s Prasanna Acharya told, when asked about supporting the RTI.
The TRS, which had earlier opposed the bill, has altered its stand reportedly after Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister and BJP president, phoned its chief, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
The government is also likely to get support from some members of the PDP, a former ally with which it had a bitter falling out. While PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti remains staunchly opposed to the BJP, two of her party lawmakers have reportedly decided to back the government’s RTI bill.
Sources in the Congress conceded that with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaching out to the BJD and TRS leaderships, the numbers are against them and the RTI amendment bill is likely to go through.
After five retirements yesterday, the BJP and its allies are six short of a majority in the Rajya Sabha, where it has always faced an opposition wall in pushing legislation.
With parties like the BJD, PDP, TRS and the YSR Congress backing the RTI bill, the government will have 129 votes in support of the proposed law, which is way ahead of the 118 majority mark.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi had strongly objected to the changes the government has proposed to the RTI law. The amendment bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha, where the government enjoys a majority.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said the centre was “hell-bent on completely subverting the historic RTI Act” and the law, “prepared after wide-spread consultations and passed unanimously by parliament, now stands on brink of extinction.”
The Congress and other opposition parties had decided in a meeting to demand in the Rajya Sabha that seven out of 16 pending bills, including the RTI Amendment Bill, be sent to a Joint Select Committee.
The RTI changes will allow the government to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of the Information Commissioners at the centre and states.
Opposition parties, which have termed the amendment the “RTI Elimination Bill”, argue that authorising the government to take a call on the employment and pay of RTI authorities will take away their independence.
The opposition argues that even honest officials will stop disclosing sensitive information if their job and salaries are at stake.
Source By NDTV