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Gujarat citizens show the way; vote in publicly kept ballot boxes against Ordinance to keep political parties out of RTI

8,000 citizens have voted against the government’s ordinance to keep political parties outside the RTI ambit; Gujarat activists working overtime to spread awareness and participation

Bhadresh Wamja, a teenager from Saladi village in Gujarat who created history by using the Right to Information (RTI) Act to streamline the Public Distribution System (PDS) in his village, has begun a drive to collect as many ballot papers (created for the purpose) by encouraging citizens to put in their vote of whether they want an Ordinance passed by the government to keep political parties out of the ambit of RTI Act.
 

Pangti Jog, member of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAG), an organisation dedicated to RTI activities is steering this state-wide campaign. She says that, “More than 8,000 people have voted against... not a single vote for the amendment or in favour of political parties. We are planning to collect over 50,000 votes. We are also starting an email campaign today, where citizens will send an email to the president. We are hoping to send more than 1,000 such emails before 15th July by when political parties have to appoint PIO and Appellate Authorities and abide by suo motu Section 4 disclosures, as per CIC order of 3rd June. Already more than 500 people have sent emails to the president requesting not to sign any ordinance.”
 

Besides, several citizen groups across Gujarat are protesting against the government’s intention to dilute RTI act, to exclude political parties. Ms Jog states that ballot papers are being circulated to citizen groups across state which are actively working for RTI awareness and promotion.
 

Citizen groups in Surat are holding outreach programmes in public gardens and colleges by having signature campaigns. Other activities include requesting eminent citizens to send letters to editors; calling upon elected representatives and starting e-petitions.

The ballot boxes will be sent to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, says Ms Jog, with a note that, “As our representatives are amending RTI without taking our consent... we are compelled to send our votes directly.”
 

Contact persons for the Gujarat campaign: Ajay Jangid - Surat (8000833301) & Bhadresh Wamja (09898810421), Ratna Ala (Rajkot) Bharat Ghughar (Rajkot) Riyaz (Kutch) Falguniben (N. Gujarat)

You may also want to read: Activists fear Ordinance soon to keep political parties out of RTI
 

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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