New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to all the national political parties seeking their response as to why they should not be treated as public authority for the purpose of bringing them in the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu issued notice on a plea by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that had sought the political parties must be exposed to public scrutiny under the RTI as they play an important role in the affairs of the country.
Appearing for the ADR, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that political parties play an important role in the formation of government, taking political decisions, including enactment of laws, having far-reaching bearing on the society and the country.
He said political parties get state funding by way of tax exemptions on their funds which they get from various sources.
Bhushan said the political parties should disclose the source of their funding, including those making contributions up to Rs.20,000, which under the present system they are not compelled to disclose and forms a major part of their funding.
The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022
The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”
In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”
Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.
The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.
As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.
The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.
The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.
‘Jerusalem calling’ in Nagaland https://t.co/yR0rEmlhi3 via @the_hindu BJP promise to send Christians on a free trip,I was right BJP continues with Subsidy if it suits its electoral needs this is “ INDIA first”
This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.
The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.
In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.