Congress says no again to government’s Lokpal meeting

Mallikarjun Kharge

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he would not attend the meeting of the Selection Committee for Lokpal to be held the same day, unless the leader of the single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member.

Kharge also said that any eminent person who would be chosen as Lokpal would not accept this appointment made by a Selection Committee that did not consider the views of the Opposition.

“The recent actions of the government including the dilution of the Right to Information Act and the Whistleblower’s Act shows that instead of strengthening laws to fight corruption and empowering the common man, betrays the intentions of this government,” he said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

“Since no amendments in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 have been carried out, an invitation as a ‘Special Invitee’ without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure, is only to mislead the nation and the people, rather than sincerely seeking the participation and opinion of the opposition.

“Under these circumstances, I must once again respectfully inform that I would not be able to attend the meeting of the Selection Committee until the leader of single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member as envisioned in the Lokpal Act, 2013,” he added.

This is the third time the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha has refused to attend the meeting of Lokpal Selection Committee, as he was invited as a “Special Invitee”.

The Congress leader also said it was very disappointing that his earlier letters not only went unacknowledged, but the serious concerns that were raised therein remained unaddressed.

“The government insists on continuing to invite me as as a special invitee to the Selection Committee meeting despite being aware of the fact that there is no such provision under section 4 of the Lokpal Act,” he wrote.

“It has been four years since your government came to power and if the government was indeed sincere about including the voice of the opposition in this process, it could have brought in the necessary amendments to ensure the same,” he said, adding that the Select Committee has approved the amendment to the Lokpal Act to include the leader of the single largest opposition party as a member of the Selection Committee.”

Kharge said the fact that this amendment has never been brought before the house by the government, clearly indicated that the government was keen to keep the opposition outside the process of appointing the Lokpal, and thus the process of appointing the Lokpal under such circumstances is “vitiated”.