Jairam Ramesh offers to resign, PM turns it down

Jairam offered to resign over his controversial remarks in Beijing but PM has turned it down.

Updated: May 14, 2010, 00:13 AM IST

New Delhi: Environment Minister Jairam
Ramesh offered to resign over his controversial remarks in
Beijing but appears to have escaped the axe by a whisker today
with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turning it down.

Congress sources said the 56-year-old Minister, whose
remarks critical of his government policies on Chinese soil
caused embarrassment to the country, may have got just a
temporary reprieve.

Suspense also hangs over his re-nomination to the Rajya
Sabha with Ramesh`s term coming to an end next month amid
stiff opposition by a section of Congress leaders from Andhra
Pradesh against fielding him from the state.

Ramesh had offered his resignation on Monday night
after his controversial remarks in Beijing that the Home
Ministry and the Indian security establishment were being
"alarmist and paranoid" when it came to Chinese companies
wanting to do business in India, raising a storm. There were
demands of strong action against him by the Opposition.

PMO sources said Ramesh`s offer to put in his papers
has been turned down by the Prime Minister.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed described the issue
as "closed chapter" after Prime Minister`s turning down the
resignation offer of Ramesh.

There was no discussion on the Ramesh issue at today`s
Cabinet meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika
Songi told reporters to repeated questions on whether it had
figured.

However, that Ramesh is still not out of the woods
became apparent from a remark by another senior Congress
leader, who declined to be identified.

"The government won`t like to do any such thing just a
few days before UPA II celebrates its first anniversary on May
22. But after that nothing can be ruled out," he remarked.

Earlier, strongly disapproving his remarks, the Prime
Minister and the Congress had reprimanded Ramesh.

Apparently sensing trouble, Ramesh had tried to
clarify his statement in a letter to Congress President Sonia
Gandhi and the Prime Minister soon after his return from
Beijing on Monday but it failed to cut ice.

Home Minister P Chidambaram had written a strongly-
worded letter to Singh, objecting to his Ramesh`s remarks.

After receiving letters from Chidambaram and Ramesh,
Singh had spoken to the Environment minister and told him that
he should not have commented on functioning of other
ministries.

Singh had told Ramesh it was "advisable for Cabinet
colleagues not to make comments on the functioning of other
ministries, especially with regard to relationship with
important neighbours like China".

"There is no confusion in our policies towards China
and we continue to strive for constructive engagement with
Beijing," Singh had told Ramesh.

PTI