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Mallikarjun Kharge boycotts Lokpal selection panel meet again, 6th time this year


New Delhi: Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge again boycotted the Lokpal Selection Committee meeting Wednesday, the sixth time he has done so this year on the pretext that he is not made a full-fledged member in the panel. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he conveyed his decision of boycotting the panel meeting held this evening. The selection committee will set up a search panel for recommending names for the appointment of the anti-graft ombudsman, the Lokpal, and its members.

“It is distressing that the government continues to invite me as a special invitee to the selection committee meeting despite being aware of the fact that there is no provision under section 4 of the Lokpal Act, 2013,” he wrote to the prime minister. “Considering the fact that there is no provision under section 4 of the Lokpal Act, 2013 for a special invitee to be a part of the selection committee, I am once again forced to respectfully decline this invitation until the leader of the single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member to reflect the spirit of the Lokpal Act, 2013,” his letter said.

The Congress leader said over the last four years, 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. “An invitation as a ‘special invitee’ without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure, is an eyewash to mislead the nation and the people. It shows that there is a concerted effort and also a design to keep an important member of the Selection Committee out of purview and have overbearing influence on the selection process of appointing the Lokpal,” he said.

The Congress is the single largest opposition party in the Lower House. Kharge boycotted the previous meetings of the selection committee which is chaired by the prime minister. He had sent letters to the prime minister rejecting the invitation extended to him to attend the meetings of the Selection Committee held this year — March 1, April 10, July 19, August 21 and September 4 — as a “special invitee”.

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