New Delhi: The Congress today decided to boycott the meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee, with leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge refusing the government’s offer to attend it as a ‘special invitee’.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge has said that a special invitee invitation is a “concerted effort” to exclude the voice of the opposition in Lokpal selection.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, only the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha is a member of the Selection Committee and since Kharge does not have that status, he is not a part of the panel.
The Government had invited him for today’s meeting of Selection Committee as a special invitee.
“A special invitee invitation is a concerted effort to exclude the independent voice of the opposition altogether from the selection process of the most important anti corruption watchdog,” Kharge said in his letter to the prime minister.
The Congress leader has said that this negates the letter and spirit of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, and accused the government of adopting this route as a “mere paper formality” rather than seek any meaningful and constructive participation.
Kharge said that if the government is serious about the appointment of the anti-corruption watchdog, it must bring an ordinance in the shape of an amending bill, which he also sent along with his letter.
He alleged that while the Government has brought out amendments in other Acts to replace the “Leader of Opposition” to “leader of single largest party” in opposition, it has not done so in the Lokpal Act.
”My mere presence as special invitee without rights of participation, recording of my opinion and voting would be a mere eyewash, ostensibly aimed at showcasing the participation of the opposition in the selection process,”he said in his letter.
Today’s meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee has been convened after the February 23 order of the Supreme Court in the matter.
Kharge has also alleged that the conduct of this government only seeks to “diminish” the spirit and objective of appointment of Lokpal and deny the participation, voice and opinion of the opposition.
“May I say that such myopic actions belie the spirit of nation building, more so while constituting an institution like the Lokpal. A more apt and statesman like conduct is expected from the prime minister of the country,” he said.
“In these circumstances, I must respectfully decline the invite as ‘special invitee’ to uphold the inviolability of The Lokpal Act, 2013, as the current proceedings have reduced a sacred procedure to a political pretence,” he said concluding his letter to the prime minister.