In the turn of events reminiscent of Bharatiya Janata Party's opposition to the appointment of P J Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner two years ago, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj refused to back the government nominee in the category of eminent jurist in the Lokpal panel and registered her dissent during the proceedings of the meeting last night, sources said.
Swaraj was outvoted with three votes going in favour of the government nominee in the meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence to select the fifth member of the panel, they said.
The Leader of Opposition had opposed Rao's name, saying he has been a "Congress loyalist" and instead proposed the name of former Attorney General K Parasaran.
She demanded that the panel should be "free from such people" and said it should have "apolitical people" and should not be made a "captive body", according to the sources.
Sources close to her said Swaraj had said that since this is the first time the anti-corruption ombudsman was being appointed in the country, there should be unanimity on the appointments.
She is believed to have suggested the names of eminent jurists Fali Nariman and Harish Salve for the key panel and even said to bring unanimity in the decision, another meeting could be held and a fresh list of names be worked out.
The sources said despite her opposition, the other three members of the Selection Committee - the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Supreme Court judge H L Dattu, who has been nominated by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, gave a go-ahead to Rao's membership.
This is the second time that the government and the opposition are headed for a showdown on the issue of a key appointment. The Leader of Opposition had earlier vehemently opposed the appointment of P J Thomas, a bureaucrat, as CVC but the government went ahead with the appointment. He was later removed after the Supreme Court's intervention.
The five-member Selection Committee will appoint the chairman and members of the anti-corruption body Lokpal.
The Centre has sought nomination of eligible candidates for appointing the chairperson and eight members of the Lokpal. The last date of sending nomination is February 7.
Of the eight posts for members in the Lokpal, four are for judicial side while the remaining will be for non-judicial work.
The chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of the selection panel.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.