Kharge again declines invite to Lokpal meet

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New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday yet again declined the government’s invitation to a meeting of the Lokpal selection committee as “special invitee”, terming it “misleading”.

Pointing out that there is no provision in the Lokpal and Lokayukt Act for a “special invitee”, Kharge in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there was no sense in attending the meeting without rights of participation or voting.

“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 an opinion of the opposition,” Kharge wrote.

“The people of our nation should know that the government has wasted 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 Section 4 (1) of the said Act.”

Under the present Lokpal Act, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha has to be a member of the Lokpal selection committee. However, in the present Lok Sabha, there is technically no Leader of Opposition as no opposition party has the required 10 per cent of the total seats.

The Congress, with 48 MPs, is the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

Kharge pointed out that the Select Committee of Parliament has already cleared the amendment of Lokpal Act to include the leader of single largest opposition party, but the Modi government has not yet moved the amendment to “exclude the opinion of the opposition from the selection process of the Lokpal”.

He termed the meeting of selection committee “merely a perfunctory gesture to assuage the letter of the Supreme court’s direction”.

This is the second letter Kharge wrote to the Prime Minister on this topic. The first one was written on February 28.

Kharge rued that not only did his 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 Department of Personnel and Training”.

“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.

“Under these circumstances, 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,” Kahrge said.



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