It goes against his assurance to Parliament, says BJP

Political opponents are seeing red over Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh's departure from India's long-standing climate change policy at the United Nations summit in Cancun, where he said all countries must take on binding commitments “in appropriate legal form.”

Leaders from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum have criticised the Minister's stance as a “volte face” and a “sell-out,” demanding that the government make clear whether it authorised his statement.

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders pointed out that Mr. Ramesh's statement went against his assurance to Parliament a year ago that India would “under no circumstances accept a legally binding emission reduction cut.”

“The stand that the Minister has taken is contrary to the parliamentary mandate,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said, adding it did not represent India's aspirations. “His ‘ flexibility' has compromised India's interest. He has broken alliances [with China], which were formed after years of hard work… The Government of India must explain why this ‘crawl' is being undertaken in the matter under the garb of flexibility.”

CPI national secretary D. Raja was equally scathing. “The government should clearly explain whether the Minister was given a mandate for such a departure from status quo, or whether he spoke on his own,” he said. “It is clear that the government is under tremendous pressure from the U.S. and developed countries. The government should not be afraid of getting isolated. No one can isolate India.”

In Cancun, Mr. Ramesh had defended himself, saying there was pressure from a number of countries, and his statement had given India room for manoeuvrability and flexibility. But Opposition leaders were unconvinced by his clarifications that he was working under a Cabinet mandate and that his statement did not mean that India would take on any legally binding commitment “at this stage.”

“This obvious contradiction is incomprehensible,” Mr. Jaitley said. “Either the Minister feels that he is too clever by halves or that the nation is incapable of comprehending his volte face.”