Did Shyam Saran quit over difference with Jairam Ramesh?
New Delhi: Shyam Saran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy on climate change, may have quit the government job Friday, despite his expected elevation to minister rank, because of much-talked about differences with Minister of State Environment Jairam Ramesh, knowledgeable sources said.
Highly placed sources said Saran and Ramesh are known to have differing recommendations for India's negotiating stance at formal and informal negotiations in international forums. Members of India's climate changes negotiating team told IANS that Saran had been against the decision to announce a reduction in carbon emissions intensity before the Copenhagen summit last December.
Saran felt that this was an ace that India should keep up its sleeve at the negotiating high-table. But Ramesh reportedly worked out an agreement with the other BASIC countries (IChina Brazil and South Africa) that they would make the announcement and use this to pressure the rich countries to make significant cuts, the sources said.
"There were also significant differences whether Kyoto Protocol should continue. Saran was adamant on its continuation while Ramesh was more flexible," a climate change negotiator told IANS.
Saran, a former foreign secretary, however, refused to entertain questions on whether there were other reasons for his decision to quit, although the Prime Minister's Office had told him that he would be elevated to minister of state rank in the environment ministry.
With India positioning itself as a proactive player in the climate change discourse, Manmohan Singh was keen to assign Saran more responsibilities to carry forward the country's climate diplomacy, said PMO sources. Saran was instrumental in the drafting of several of the eight missions under India's National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
"I had indicated well in advance to the Prime Minister's Office that March 14 would be my last working day. This is not something new. That's all there is to this," Saran told IANS.
PMO officials said the decision to make Saran a MoS (minister of state) had been taken because Shiv Shankar Menon, who was three years junior in foreign service, took charge as the National Security Advisor (NSA).
Menon, who retired as foreign secretary in July last year, was appointed the NSA in January.
"Since Saran was a key negotiator in India's climate change diplomacy and enjoyed the prime minister's mandate, (so) the elevation was natural," said the official.
A release from the PMO said, "Shyam Saran, special envoy of the prime minister for Indo-US nuclear issues and for climate change, has been permitted to demit office with effect from March 14."