NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge yet again failed to attend the meeting of a high-powered committee for the selection of a Lokpal or an Ombudsman on Tuesday. This was the fifth time that the senior Congress leader refused to attend the crucial meeting.
Kharge said that he wouldn't do so until he gets the status of a full-fledged member instead of a 'Special Invitee'.
The senior Congress leader had written a letter – his fifth so far - to the Prime Minister in which he had requested the Centre to invite him to the Lokpal selection panel meet as a full-fledged member and not as a 'Special Invitee'.
"The government continues to invite me as a Special Invitee to the Selection Committee despite being aware of the fact that there is no provision under Section 4 of the Lokpal Act, 2013," he said in his letter sent on September 2.
Kharge had earlier written to the Prime Minister on February 28, April 10, July 18 and August 18 this year over the issue.
"Accepting this invitation to attend as a 'Special Invitee' without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure would be violative of both the letter and spirit of the Lokpal Act," the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha said in his September 2 letter.
"I am, therefore, forced, once again to respectfully decline the invitation to attend the meeting of the Selection Committee untill the Leader of Single Largest Opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member as envisioned in the Lokpal Act, 2013," he said.
Kharge said he was aware that the government was using the opportunity to spread a canard that the Opposition was not cooperating in implementing the Lokpal Act despite the fact that the government itself maintained that he was not a member of the selection committee.
"The very fact that the government was forced to act by the Supreme Court indicates the lack of seriousness and sincerity of the government in implementing the Lokpal Act," he added.
(With PTI inputs)