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BJP fumes, Congress steers clear

Jairam Ramesh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting a "radical change" in India's stated position on climate change drew a sharp reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2009 00:00 IST

Jairam Ramesh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting a "radical change" in India's stated position on climate change drew a sharp reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Without mincing words, BJP leader Arun Jaitley asked whether the Environment Minister was a “stalking horse on behalf of a larger lobby.”

As the Congress steered clear of Ramesh’s letter, Jaitley said the change in India’s position completely breaks the unity of the developing countries that form a large group of 131 nations, known as G-77.

“Is the Environment Minister giving his personal views or is he a stalking horse on behalf of a larger lobby? If these are his personal views, can he continue as India’s key negotiator on climate change,” asked Jaitley, who heads the Opposition in Rajya Sabha.

He said if the minister was a "trial balloon" for a larger lobby, the issue assumed "greater seriousness.” He said the BJP “expected the government to clarify” its stand on the issue and India's stated position at the international fora.

“If India changed its stand on climate change, it would have to pay the price for pollution caused by developed countries.

If we change our position, it would be UPA's Diwali gift to the US and other developed countries at the cost of India's poor," he said.

Earlier, Jaitley said, Ramesh had “sabotaged” India’s negotiations by his comments in an important newspaper when they were going on in Bangkok.

Asked about Ramesh’s stand, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "Let us be very clear. The clarification, if any, has to be given by the honourable minister or the PMO. This is a matter in which the party did not have consultation. There is no question of commenting on it."

Sunita Narain, Director for Science and Environment, a NGO, said, “I don’t understand why Ramesh is willing to change India’s position for US. They are giving very little for climate change. In fact, US have been seeking to increase its emissions before reducing it”.

She said Ramesh’s agreement to accept Australia’s proposal for new protocol on climate change was dangerous.