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BJP, Cong at loggerheads over appointment to Lokpal panel

PTI | Last Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 21:04

New Delhi: BJP and Congress were on Wednesday at loggerheads over the government`s move to appoint a jurist to Lokpal selection panel with the main opposition approaching President Pranab Mukherjee to press its demand for a consensus on such an issue.

BJP said the government is trying to negate the spirit of the Parliamentary Select Committees recommendations while Congress said the opposition party was making "lameduck excuses" because of its "hidden agenda" of blocking the constitution of Lokpal.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who is opposing appointment of Supreme Court lawyer P P Rao in the panel, met Mukherjee and lodged protest at the manner in which the government pushed his nomination.

Swaraj, who is a member of the Lokpal Selection Committee, feels that Rao is a "Congress-loyalist" and should not be in the panel to ensure its neutrality of the body that will choose members of the anti-graft ombudsman.

She expressed her opposition first at the meeting of the Selection Committee convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this week.

Blaming the Prime Minister for the row, BJP accused him of having "failed" in his duty on the Lokpal appointment issue and said it goes against the spirit of Parliamentary approval.

"The first and foremost blame lies with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister as Prime Minister and leader of a team in the collegium must make an effort to bring about a consensus. He failed in the case of CVC. I am sorry to say he has failed all the more in the case of a Lokpal," BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad told reporters here.

The Lokpal selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or his representative and an eminent jurist. The current row is related to appointment of P P Rao in the category of `eminent jurist`.

"Dr Manmohan Singh, by insisting upon this one particular name and forcing its approval, is seeking to negate the entire spirit of Select Committee recommendations and Parliamentary approval," said Prasad, the BJP`s Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said BJP is making "lameduck excuses" as it has a "hidden agenda" of blocking the constitution of Lokpal itself.

Swaraj`s decision "to oppose the appointment of eminent jurist P P Rao on the selection panel for Lokpal on purely flimsy grounds and by levelling baseless allegations with political motives exposes the hidden agenda of BJP," he told reporters.
"Does it mean that BJP has lost faith in two most democratic edifices of the country -- the office of the CJI and the Speaker? Is it fair on part of the Leader of Opposition to raise objections, which are politically motivated and unjustifiably question the loyalty of an eminent jurist on whose name even a Supreme Court Judge and Speaker have agreed upon?
"Does the Leader of Opposition want rest of the two members only to agree to the choice of the BJP. BJP must answer the question to people of India instead of indulging in the game of oneupmanship," Surjewala said.

First Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 21:04

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