New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday criticized the government for not making crucial appointments at vital institutions and for excessive centralization.

Making an intervention in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had not filled key vacancies at the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Lokpal.

The government has not appointed a chief information commissioner, three information commissioners, Lokpal and two vigilance commission officers for periods lasting up to a year, Gandhi said.

“In their election speeches, they promised transparency; now, there is a blatant U-turn. This government has made sure that through the absence of a chief information commissioner, several key ministries are no longer accountable and escape scrutiny," she said, adding that the common citizen no longer has the right to question the government.

“Information delayed is information denied and it is simply not acceptable…the government must match its words in fighting corruption with actions," she said. Gandhi also pointed out how the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011, was still not put into effect even after presidential assent was given in May 2014.

Responding to Gandhi’s statements in the House, Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, said the CVC’s appointment was delayed due to a court order, and vacancy of information commissioners have been there in the past as well. The process for appointing the chief information commissioner was underway by issuing public advertisements, the minister said.

Earlier, at a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party, Gandhi alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was leading a centralized government. “They deserve credit for creating the most centralized government in India’s recent history. Ministers hardly matter. Even the bureaucrats, who are supposedly empowered, feel paralysed because all key files are pending in the Prime Minister’s office for decisions," Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party, said.

“The challenge to us is very clear. We are faced with a government which assaults everything precious that India and the Congress stands for. We have to fight back," she said, adding that the Congress should take the fight forward and expose the government on its “other sins of omission and commission".

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