Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday again declined to attend a meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee, reiterating that "invitation as special invitee without the right of participation, recording of opinion and voting was an eyewash".
The Lok Sabha member said that it was a concerted effort and also a design to keep an important member of the Selection Committee out and thus have an overbearing influence on the selection of the Lokpal.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha is a member of the Selection Committee. Since Mr Kharge does not have that status, he has not been made a part of the Selection Panel and only a 'special invitee'.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Mr Kharge said that unless and until the leader of the single largest opposition party (Congress) is conferred the status of a full-fledged member of the Selection Committee, he wouldn't attend the meeting.
"This letter is in reference to the office memorandum dated September 11 of the Department of Personnel and Training, inviting me to attend the Lokpal Selection Committee meeting on September 19," Mr Kharge said in the letter.
"Your attention is also invited to my earlier letters dated February 28, April 10, July 18, and September 4 wherein I have written to you in detail regarding my objections to being invited as a 'special invitee' and reasons for declining the invitation," he added.
Mr Kharge said that it was distressing that the government continued to invite him as a special invitee despite being aware of the fact that there is no such provision under Section 4 of the Lokpal Act, 2013.
"Over the last four years, the government has not made any attempt to amend the relevant provisions to include leader of the single-largest party in the opposition as panel member.
"An invitation as a special invitee without the right of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure is an eyewash to mislead the nation and the people," said Mr Kharge.
"Considering the fact that there is no provision under Section 4 of the Lokpal Act for a special invitee, I am again forced to respectfully decline this invitation unless... conferred the status of a full-fledged member to reflect the spirit of the Lokapl Act.
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