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PM, Cong Reprimand Ramesh, BJP Demands Action Against Him

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was on Monday reprimanded by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as the Congress for his comments against the Home Ministry over approach towards Chinese companies even as Opposition BJP demanded
PTI May 10, 2010 18:32 IST
PTI

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was on Monday reprimanded by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as the Congress for his comments against the Home Ministry over approach towards Chinese companies even as Opposition BJP demanded action against him.

Strongly disapproving of Ramesh's remarks made in Beijing two days back, Singh spoke to him soon after his return this morning and told him that he should not have commented on functioning of other ministries.

Singh told Ramesh that 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," PMO sources said.

The Prime Minister's blunt message to the Environment Ministry came on his comment in Beijing that the Home Ministry was "overly defensive" and "alarmist" in its approach towards entry of Chinese companies in India.

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

The Environment Minister today refused to comment when referred to the controversy created by his remarks.

Ramesh, while talking in Beijing about the India-China warmth developed during the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, had suggested that the Home Ministry needed to be "much more relaxed" in its approach to Chinese investments in India.

He had said that the security establishment was putting "needless" restrictions on Chinese investments in India as "we are imagining demons where there are none".

The Home Ministry also snubbed Ramesh, saying, "It is wrong to say that the security establishment was biased against the Chinese companies.

"Chinese companies are already present in India in a big way. They are working in a variety of sectors, including in telecommunications sector. I don't think there is any discrimination happening from the government's side," Home Secretary G K Pillai said.

Dubbing Ramesh's utterances as "inappropriate", Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the party endorses pulling up of Ramesh by the Prime Minister.
"The Prime Minister and the PMO have already clarified that it is not appreciated that any minister comments on other department or ministries, especially when they are on foreign soil," he said giving the sense of party's feeling over Ramesh's remarks.

"At the same time, we would like to add that even within the country, there should be no occasion to air differences about other ministries," Singhvi said, while reminding the Environment Minister that "there are enough forums in the party and the government to express views."

While the government and the Congress did not indicate whether or not any punitive action would be taken against Ramesh, BJP said the Minister had lost moral right to continue and demanded action by the Prime Minister against him.

"The comments of Ramesh in a foreign country which were critical of the Government are highly objectionable. An Indian Minister lobbying for Chinese companies notwithstanding the security threat to the country is unbecoming of a Minister," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

"Utterances by Ramesh establish that lobbyists also operate from within the government," Javadekar told reporters.

Emphasising tht the Prime Minister should restrain his ministers, he said, "We want to ask the Prime Minister as to what action he is taking (against Ramesh). The Prime Minister owes an explanation over the internal squabbling within ministers and take action against him."

When asked whether BJP will seek Ramesh's resignation for his comments, Javadekar said "definitely, if the PM does not act (against him)."

He claimed that Ramesh has given the "most bizarre" explanation for his comments that the ties between India and China developed post Copenhagen summit will suffer if the security guidelines on import Chinese telecom equipment are not revised.

Supporting the restrictions, the BJP spokesman said, "It is a known fact that Chinese hackers have targetted Indian websites, therefore, the Home Ministry has rightly issued the the guidelines." Javadekar wondered whether the allocation of business rules were "not binding" on the UPA ministers. PTI