Kharge again refuses to attend Lokpal selection panel meet

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New Delhi : Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday again refused to attend the Tuesday meeting of a committee to select the Lokpal, saying he wouldn't do so until he gets the status of a full-fledged member instead of a 'Special Invitee'.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha said that to exclude the voice of the opposition in a parliamentary democracy would be to exclude and subjugate Parliament.

"... with reference to an office memorandum dated July 6 of the Department of Personnel and Training, inviting me to attend a meeting of the Selection Committee under the Lokpal Act on August 21, I would like to draw your attention to my three letters earlier this year in response to previous invitations to attend the committee meetings on March 1, April 10 and July 19 as a Special Invitee...

"Despite my earlier letters, the government continues to invite me as a Special Invitee, knowing very well what the outcome will be. Perhaps, the government intends this outcome to create another strawman to attack by suggesting that the opposition is not cooperating in implementing the Lokpal Act... there is no provision for a Special Invitee under the Lokpal Act.

"It is deeply embarrassing to Parliament that even after its Select Committee approved amendment to the Lokpal Act to enable leader of the single-largest (opposition) party to be a member of the Selection Committee, the government refuses to bring this amendment before the house."

The senior Congress leader said that he believed that the process of appointing the Lokpal under such circumstances is "vitiated".

"...instead of genuinely involving the opposition, the invitation as a Special Invitee without the right of participation, recording of opinion or voting, is being sent out to the opposition.

"Under these circumsatances... I will not be able to attend the committee meeting until the leader of the single-largest opposition (party in the Lok Sabha) is conferred the status of a full-fledged member of the Selection Committee, as envisoned in the Lokpal Act, 2013."