Kharge says no to Lokpal meet again

Kharge says no to Lokpal meet again

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday yet again turned down an invitation by the Modi government asking him to join a meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee as a "special invitee" without rights to record views or vote.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge refused to participate in a "charade" as the concerns raised by him ahead of a similar meeting last month had remained unaddressed.

"I must once again respectfully decline the invite as 'Special Invitee' to prevent any dilution of the letter and spirit of the Lokpal Act, 2013," he said.

He said that inviting the leader of the single largest Opposition party as a "special invitee" was done with the singular intention of excluding the opinion of the Opposition from the selection process of Lokpal.

Kharge drew the attention of the prime minister to a letter written by him on February 28 requesting him to attend the meeting as a "special invitee".

"It is deeply disappointing that not only did the earlier letter go unacknowledged, but also the serious concerns that were raised in that letter continue to go unaddressed as seen by the issuing of the latest office memorandum from DoPT," he said.

Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act do not have any provision for a "special invitee".

"An invitation as a 'special invitee' without rights of participation, recording of opinion, and voting in procedure is only to mislead the nation and the people, rather than sincerely seeking the participation and opinion of the Opposition," he said.

The Congress leader also dubbed the current exercise as "merely a perfunctory gesture to assuage the letter of the Supreme Court's direction," he said.

Kharge accused the government of wasting four precious years in the fight against corruption by not amending the Lokpal Act to include the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha as a member of the selection committee under the said Act.

"If the government is, indeed, serious about ensuring that the Lokpal is appointed with the sanctity it deserves, I would once again suggest that the government bring in the necessary amendment by way of an ordinance to include the voice of the opposition in this process," he said.

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