CM Vijayan and CPI leader Kanam Rajendran have been at loggerheads over the Act.

The Communists are fighting each other in Kerala Hopefully its the RTI Act that wins
news Politics Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 17:10

The two Communist parties in Kerala's ruling Left government are sparring with each other. While the CPI and CPI(M) have had many political disagreements, this time the fight is over how the Right to Information Act (RTI) on cabinet decisions should be dealt with.

It a sharp reply to the statement of Communist Party of India State Secretary Kanam Rajendran, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesdaythat it is most unfortunate that rumours are being spread over how state government is looking at the RTI.

"It's most unfortunate that interpretations are being aired implying that our government is following the same path as the previous Congress-led Kerala government, when it comes to giving out information on corruption. This is contrary to our Left ideology and it should not have come from someone who has to correct the wrongdoers," Vijayan said.

He added that at a seminar early this week, he had clearly specified in his speech that his government will take all steps to strengthen the Information Commission.

"I ended my speech by saying that steps will be taken to see how the RTI can be brought into the academic curriculum and also do everything to create more awareness among the civil society on RTI," the Chief Minister said.

Early this week, Rajendran had criticised Vijayan over the manner in which information on the details of the politics of violence in Kannur district were not made available under RTI and also stated that the probe against former ministers in the Oommen Chandy government was moving at a snail's pace.

Kanam had said that a move to dilute the powers of the RTI Act was not acceptable at all. He maintained that the left government had the responsibility of safeguarding the rights and of the people. 

"The stand that cabinet decisions cannot be made public can in no way be justified. The LDF has the responsibility to protect the Right to Information Act. Any decision taken against the interest of the Act is not acceptable,"

The LDF-led Kerala government's tryst with RTI began in June last year, when the State Chief Information Commissioner Vinson M Paul directed that all cabinet decision shall be made available through RTI. The decisions should also be uploaded on the government website, the official had said. However, the state government had then challenged this decision in the High Court, following which, the directive was stayed. 

The controversy resurfaced late last week, when the CM said in Thiruvananthapuram that certain cabinet decisions could not be revealed in the public domain, as it would affect its effective implementation. The CM proceeded to accuse a section of the people, of misusing the act by seeking sensitive information from the government. That Pinarayi Vijayan made these statements while inaugurating a seminar on RTI Act, was itself problematic.

“There is no need to deny any information when it is sought under the RTI. It is not needed to keep information and documents under an iron curtain. But all cabinet decisions cannot be revealed in that manner. If information on some decisions are revealed, a situation may arise that we cannot implement those decisions. So its details can be provided only after implementing it,” he was quoted as saying.

Over the years, relations between the CPI-M and CPI has lost its warmth and even after eight months of Vijayan's taking office, the relations between the two parties continue to be the same.

Early this month, the CPI expressed its displeasure when the Kerala government diary saw the names of CPI ministers below that of other allies, even though CPI is the second biggest ally of the Left coalition. Following a protest by the CPI, the dairy has been asked to be reprinted.

The convention of printing the names of ministers in alphabetical order was also not followed.

(With inputs from IANS)

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