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Updated: May 14, 2010 04:08 IST

Jairam controversy blows over

Special Correspondent
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DAMAGE CONTROL: PMO officials said there was no question of the Prime Minister accepting the Environment Minister's offer to resign. File photo
PTI DAMAGE CONTROL: PMO officials said there was no question of the Prime Minister accepting the Environment Minister's offer to resign. File photo

With Jairam Ramesh having expressed contrition for his remarks last week against the Home Ministry to the Prime Minister, the Congress president and, in person, to the Home Minister himself, both the government and the party have signalled an end to the controversy.

PMO officials said there was no question of the Prime Minister accepting the Environment Minister's offer to resign and said the chapter should now be considered closed.

Mr. Ramesh attended the Union Cabinet meeting on Thursday as usual. Briefing reporters, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the issue of the Minister's remarks did not come up. “Cabinet meetings are held according to an agenda. No other issues are discussed.”

Asked about the controversy, Ms. Soni said she would not comment on the matter. “This is an issue between the Prime Minister, the UPA [United Progressive Alliance] chairperson [Sonia Gandhi] and Rameshji,” she said. “It is not for me to comment on an issue like this.”

“Time to move on”

Congress sources also indicated it was time to move on. Not only would Mr. Ramesh continue as Environment Minister but speculation on his not getting re-elected to the Rajya Sabha next month from the party's ‘quota' in Andhra Pradesh was unwarranted, they said.

In comments to Indian journalists in Beijing last Saturday, Mr. Ramesh accused the Home Ministry of being “overly defensive” in dealing with Chinese companies that wished to do business in India. This prompted Home Minister P. Chidambaram to complain to the Prime Minister.

In his own letter to Dr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Ramesh acknowledged he was wrong and offered to resign.

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