Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he will not attend the Lokpal selection meeting on Thursday. Kharge had previously turned down invitations to Lokpal selection meetings on March 1 and April 10.
“The government insists on continuing to invite me as a special invitee to the selection committee meeting despite being aware that there is no such provision under Section 4 of the Lokpal Act,” Kharge wrote. “It has been four years since your government came to power, and if it was serious about including the voice of the Opposition in the process, it could have brought in the necessary amendments.”
The Congress leader said the Lokpal panel had approved an amendment to the law to include the leader of the single largest Opposition party as a member of the selection committee but added that the government had never placed this amendment before Parliament.
Kharge alleged that the government had never been serious about appointing a Lokpal. He claimed that its recent moves to “dilute” the Right to Information Act and the Whistleblowers Protection Act showed that it does not intend to fight corruption.
“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 and opinion of the Opposition,” Kharge wrote.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it hoped the panel would expeditiously shortlist names for the post. The court is hearing a contempt petition filed by advocate Shanti Bhushan, who has said the Lokpal has not been appointed despite the top court’s judgement on April 27, 2017. The court had then asked the Centre to appoint the anti-corruption ombudsman without further delay.