Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress Party in Lok Sabha, has refused to attend the meeting of the Lokpal selection committee objecting to his invitation as a ‘special invitee’.The meeting of the selection committee to appoint anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal is scheduled for today and Kharge was invited in his capacity as the leader of the largest opposition party as the Lok Sabha does not have a Leader of Opposition.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge said, “‘Special invitee invitation’ is a concerted effort to exclude the independent voice of the opposition altogether from the selection process of the most important anti-corruption watchdog.”He also questioned the government on why the appointment of Lokpal has been delayed for four years despite the law coming into effect on January 16, 2014. “Congress-led UPA passed the Lokpal Act, 2013 and had brought it into force w.e.f January 16, 2014. Notwithstanding your repeated rhetoric to fight corruption, BJP government has chosen to not appoint a Lokpal for nearly four years,” he wrote in the letter.Also readAnna Hazare’s satyagraha on Jan Lokpal issue from March 23Kharge accused the government of calling today’s meeting only to satisfy the order of the Supreme Court. “The conduct of your government only seeks to diminish the spirit and objective of appointment of Lokpal in as much as you seek to deny participation, voice and opinion of the opposition,” he said. The government had earlier this month told the Supreme Court that the leader of the single largest party in the Opposition would be invited to attend the meeting on March 1. Attorney General K K Venugopal told a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi that steps for appointing Lokpal have been taken and the selection panel, comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha and leader of the largest opposition party, would hold a meeting on March 1 to discuss the issue.In April 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the government to immediately implement the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and appoint a Lokpal.Also readRahul Gandhi targets government over Lokpal appointmentThe top court, in its verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, were cleared by the Parliament.(With PTI inputs)

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Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge writes to PM Modi, says won’t attend Lokpal selection meet as ‘special invitee’