‘Any chaiwaala, paanwaala can raise questions today’: Praful Patel on ‘misuse’ of RTI
New Delhi: The Right To Information (RTI) Act, passed by the erstwhile UPA government is clearly not the lawmakers’ favourite. It has exposed lies, falsified tall claims and is today the most lethal tool in the hands of a common man.
Lawmakers are not amused and their reservations on the use of the transparency law is no hidden secret.
"RTI and PIL are a big problem for the country. So many departments have requested in writing to be kept out of the ambit of RTI," Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal said in Rajya Sabha recently. The comments also found resonance with Congress members who were in power when the law was passed.
"Are they (the government) aware it (RTI) is also being misused. People have cards mentioning 'RTI activist'. Money is being earned," Congress MP Rajeev Shukla said during the discussion.
While concerns over RTI among the very lawmakers who passed this law in Parliament is a cause of concern in itself, it was NCP leader Praful Patel who’s comments proved to be the icing on the cake.
Contending that the RTI law, steered by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, was passed in a hurry and had led to loss of objectivity, Patel said transparency had been taken to absurd levels. Officers are scared of taking decisions as they fear what will come out in RTI, he said.
“Anyone can pay Rs 10, some 'paanwadi' (betel leaf seller) or 'chaiwala' (tea vendor) can also ask who made a missile or anything about international affairs," the NCP MP said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who frequently refers to his humble origins as a tea-seller, was present in the Rajya Sabha, and was clearly amused as he broke into laughter. So did his trusted deputy Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other members of the house.
Patel, realising what he had said, quickly made amends. "There is no disrespect to the PM. Rather it is an honour," he said.
Ironically, the UPA government that passed this landmark legislation (Praful Patel was Union Minister in it), has been caught on the wrong foot due to RTI revelations - the 2G scam and the Commonwealth scam to name a few.
The government, meanwhile, assured the house that the concerns of the members would be kept in mind.