Unhappy over the appointment of senior Supreme Court lawyer PP Rao as the fifth member of the Lokpal selection panel, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj met President Pranab Mukherjee seeking him to intervene in the matter.
In full show of support, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on the other hand attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to introspect about the damage done to the collegium system of appointment to key government bodies.
In a meeting to elect the fifth member of the Lokpal panel, Swaraj objected to Rao’s name saying he was too much identified with the Congress. She was, however, overruled by three other members of the panel — the PM, the LS Speaker and an SC judge nominated by the CJI.
Swaraj told the President that such crucial appointments should be done through consensus and not by majority view. She demanded him to make a suggestion for the decision to be reconsidered.
However, describing Rao as an ‘honourable man’, Jaitley claimed it was Singh’s insistence on his name that raises questions on the PM’s intentions.
“The PM damaged the institution of Lokpal even prior to its appointment,” Jaitley wrote in his blog, adding, “As Dr Manmohan Singh’s tenure comes to an end, it is time for him to introspect the damage done to the collegium system. He puts on a veneer of straightforwardness but is excessively political.”
In retaliation, the Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “BJP is attempting to block appointment of Lokpal by its lame duck excuses. The decision of Sushma Swaraj to oppose the appointment of P P Rao on the Lokpal’s selection panel on purely flimsy grounds and by levelling baseless allegations with political motives exposes the party’s hidden agenda.”