New Delhi:  Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has decided to boycott a meeting of the Lokpal selection panel for the seventh time, saying there is no provision for a special invitee attending the meet. Kharge also accused the Narendra Modi-led Centre of of trying to reduce the Opposition to a ‘voiceless’ entity.

“A ‘Special Invitee’ would not have any rights of participation in the process of selection of the Lokpal and I cannot accept the Opposition being made voiceless in a critical matter,” Kharge said in a letter to PM Modi.

He added,“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. Since there is no provision under section 4 of the Lokpal Act, 2013, for a special invitee to be a part of the Selection Committee or attend these meetings, I am once again forced to respectfully decline this invitation.”

He also alleged that the government and its ministers have repeatedly used his refusal to attend the meetings as a special invitee as an “excuse for not appointing a Lokpal over the last five years”. “However, the fact remains that whatever tardy progress the government has made has only been under pressure from the Supreme Court,” Kharge added.

Alleging that “excluding the opposition”, this process is being “vitiated”, the Congress leader said, “I would like to caution the government that anyone selected through this one-sided process may decline to accept this position.”

The Supreme Court, on March 7, had directed Attorney General K K Venugopal to inform in 10 days when it would be possible to convene a meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee.

Kharge, as a leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, was earlier invited to attend the selection panel meetings six times and he has rejected the offers on the same grounds each time.