Congress skips Lokpal meet, sends angry letter to PM

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge has said that a special invitee invitation is a 'concerted effort' to exclude the voice of the opposition in Lokpal selection.

Published: 01st March 2018 11:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2018 06:08 AM   |  A+A-

Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge (File | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday skipped a crucial meeting on setting up the Lokpal, saying the government was not serious about the anti-corruption body and was involving the opposition just for show.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who was not granted the official position of the Leader of the Opposition by the Centre but asked to attend the March 1 meeting as a “special invitee”, wrote an angry letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “a more apt and statesman-like conduct was expected from the Prime Minister.”

The Congress skipped a crucial meeting on Thursday on setting up the Lokpal, saying the government was not serious about the anti-corruption body and was involving the opposition just for show.

Leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who was not granted the official position of the Leader of the Opposition by the Centre but was asked to attend the March 1 meeting as a “special invitee”, wrote an angry letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “a more apt and statesman-like conduct was expected from the Prime Minister.”

“A ‘special invitee’ can’t be a substitute for the Leader of the Opposition as per the Lokpal Act, 2013,” Kharge said in his letter dated February 28 to Modi. A copy of the letter was released to the media by the party on Thursday.

Reminding Modi that he had done nothing towards setting up the Lokpal for the past four years, Kharge said that the Centre had called a meeting now only on the orders of the Supreme Court.
“Notwithstanding your repeated rhetoric on fighting corruption, the BJP government has chosen not to appoint a Lokpal for four years,” said Kharge.

“The UPA had passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 and enacted it on January 16, 2014,” he said.
Taunting the PM, Kharge said his conduct on not setting up a Lokayukta, when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, was not surprising.

Citing a Bill to amend the Lokpal Act by substituting leader of the single largest party for Leader of the Opposition in December 2014 brought by the NDA, Kharge said the government had failed to get it passed despite a Parliamentary Select Committee having endorsed the change.

The senior Congress leader suggested that the government should bring an Ordinance for the Lokpal, if Modi was serious about setting up the anti-corruption body.

The Centre had denied Kharge the position of Leader of the Opposition in 2014, saying the Congress did not have the mandatory 54 lawmakers in the 543-member Lower House of Parliament to qualify for the post. The Congress won only 44 seats, down from 206 in 2009.  

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