Kharge refuses to attend Lokpal selection panel meet as 'special invitee'
New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday decided to boycott the meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee, with the 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 Thursday'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 the 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.
Thursday's meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee had been convened after the February 23 order of the Supreme Court in the matter.