Andhra Pradesh

AP Congress leaders against Ramesh’s re-nomination to RS

A file picture of Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. Photo: Ramesh Sharma.  

There seems to be no end to troubles for Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is now facing stiff opposition from some partymen in Andhra Pradesh over his re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Ramesh was pulled up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday for his remarks in China against the Union Home Ministry that its “alarmist” approach towards Chinese investments was putting “needless” restrictions on these.

Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh are reportedly opposing the environment minister’s re-nomination to the Upper House from the State in the biennial elections due next month.

Mr. Ramesh, a native of Karnataka, was elected to Rajya Sabha from AP in 2004 as the Congress had big numbers in the State Assembly.

Congress’ strength in the Assembly is depleted now and can win only four seats but there are too many aspirants within the State for these seats.

While this is one reason for the State Congress leaders’ opposition to Mr. Ramesh’s re-nomination, the main reason is said to be the Union Minister’s “neglect” of AP’s interests in matters related to his ministry.

“As an MP from Andhra Pradesh, he has done no good for the State in his capacity as the Union Minister,” is the contention of local Congress leaders.

“Though he is heading the environment ministry, Mr. Ramesh failed to get required environmental clearances for the Polavaram irrigation project or help it secure a national project status,” a top PCC leader pointed out.

The State government finds itself handicapped in taking up the massive project without Central assistance even as opposition parties have taken the agitation path seeking early completion of the project.

Jairam Ramesh was also “unhelpful” in the Kolleru lake issue, Congress leaders said.

The State government wanted the Kolleru lake conservation zone reduced from contour 5 to contour 3 but the Union Environment Ministry negated the move.

It, however, appointed an expert committee to study the issue and submit a report in three months.

Mr. Ramesh’s ministry is also sitting on a proposal related to development of “YSR Smriti Vanam” (memorial park), in memory of the late Chief Minister, in the Nallamala reserve forest, where he was killed in a helicopter crash on September 2 last year.

While the State government and the AP Congress are keen on completing at least some works related to the project by the time of YSR’s first death anniversary, the Union Ministry has not yet granted requisite clearances as the site is a notified tiger reserve.

YSR loyalists in the government as well as the party are particularly sore with Mr. Ramesh over this.

“In fact, Jairam Ramesh did not even attend YSR’s funeral despite being an MP from the State. When he has scant respect for our leader, how can we support his candidature for Rajya Sabha from the State?” a minister and YSR loyalist asked.

YSR loyalists are also angry with the Union Minister for not having supported the State government’s claims in the Gali brothers’ mining row.

Congress sources here said Rajasekhara Reddy had tried to prevail upon Mr. Ramesh, through Sonia Gandhi, to support his government’s claim that there was “nothing amiss” related to the iron ore mining issue.

The Union Environment Minister, however, took a different stand in the Supreme Court, leaving the YSR regime red-faced, the sources added.

“We will soon formally present our case against Jairam Ramesh to Sonia Gandhi and other AICC leaders and see that he is not re-nominated to Rajya Sabha from the State,” a general secretary of APCC, who did not wish to be named, said.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 3:58:19 AM |

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