New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has decided to boycott the Lokpal Selection Committee meeting on Friday, accusing the Narendra Modi government of trying to reduce the Opposition to a “voiceless” entity. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Kharge said, “A ‘Special Invitee’ would not have any rights of participation in the process of selection of the Lokpal and I cannot accept the Opposition being made voiceless in a critical matter.”
He added, “Since 2014, the government has not made any attempt to amend the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act to include the Leader of the Single Largest Party in the Opposition to be a member of the Selection Committee.”
This comes in the wake of a Supreme Court direction to the Centre on March 7 giving it 10 days to inform it about the possible dates when the selection panel for the appointment of the country’s first Lokpal will meet.
Parliament had passed the Lokpal Act in 2013, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. The law provides for a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to probe the cases of corruption against public servants.
The Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, Leader of the Opposition and an eminent jurist are the members of the Lokpal Selection Committee. As there is no designated Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha currently, the government had invited Kharge to the meetings of the selection panel but as a ‘special invitee’.