Choosing Lokpal: Kharge ‘no’ to special invitee offer

Bengaluru: Snubbing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre for trying to cut him to size, Congress party leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge has declined the government’s invitation to him to take part in the selection of  a new Lokpal. Mr Kharge in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, said that the leader of opposition cannot be considered a special invitee. 

“It is a matter of surprise that your government  chose to adopt this route as a mere formality rather than seeking any meaningful and constructive participation,” Mr Kharge remarked.

Mr Kharge leads the Congress party which has 44 MPs, in the Lok Sabha, which is less than the required strength for a party to stake claim to the status of opposition party in the lower House.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, he referred to the Lokpal Bill-2013 which was amended in 2014 to accommodate the leader of the single largest party in the selection process. 

“I understand that even the select committee had put its seal on the amendment bill, yet the government failed to introduce and pass it. The amended bill continues to languish in the cold storage for want of appropriate intent and commitment. My mere presence as a special invitee, without the right of participation, recording of opinion and voting would be an eye wash, ostensibly aimed at showcasing the participation of the opposition in the selection process.”

He further criticised the Prime Minister for not appointing the Lokpal for years, similar to what had happened in Gujarat where the government did not appoint a Lokayukta for very long. 

“If you are serious, you should bring an ordinance and place the same before Parliament when it reconvenes in March. The present meeting on March 1 has been called to satisfy the Supreme Court order issued on February 23 vis-a-vis the appointment of the Lokpal. 

}May I say that myopic actions belie the spirit of nation building, more so while constituting an institution like the Lokpal. A more apt and statesmanlike conduct is expected from the Prime Minister. In these circumstances, I must respectfully decline the invite as special invitee as the sacred procedure has been reduced to a mere political pretence.”

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