For suave Jairam Ramesh, Indian MoS Environment, it’s the proverbial case of foot in the mouth syndrome. Known as a ‘good and ingenious’ glib talker, this time at Cancun Climate Change Summit he opened his mouth little more than he should have and thus dragged both himself and the beleaguered UPA government to the receiving end of much brickbats.
Some one who loves to go out of the "box", the Environment and Forest Minister, his detractors say, by way of remarks has shifted the ‘goalpost’ on climate change negotiations. Back home opposition says it’s sell out. The charge is, however, denied by the government even as the PMO, reeling under much attack on corruption, also issued a veiled snub on the suave minister.
If the taste of the pudding is in it’s eating, in diplomacy and international negotiations, winning new friends and to be flexible is the real success mantra. Ramesh and his supporters say, this has precisely happened in the Cancun Climate Change Summit 2010. India has emerged as a key voice in the key conclave along with two influential global players China and the United States opposing the legally binding emission cut.
At the same time, they insist, India has opened the door for negotiations.
But at what cost - remains a question.
The rough weather that he has landed is the creation of a man who loves to fondle his hair and gesticulate with his hands while delivering speeches in parliament – trying to present himself before the camera as an intellectual academician!
Ramesh also wants to present himself as a unique synthesis of a ‘science-knowing-nature-loving-Rahul Gandhi loyalist’ politician. This syndrome –of thinking oneself beyond the size of his shoes – say his detractors - is singularly responsible for getting him the snub from the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who had to issue a statement saying nothing much must be read in the remarks from Ramesh.
Sadly, the PMO had to make the remark about none other than the leader of the Indian delegation at the summit. When the Prime Minister says “nothing much must be seen” in the minister’s remarks – one obvious question startles the observers is why did the Prime Minister give such a free hand to the minister of state for environment.
To a large extent; these only reflect Congress internal power bickering as Ramesh is not only a mere Rahul loyalist. Over the months, Ramesh has also made his pro-environment tilt as the union minister deciding principally by the tour map of Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul has accordingly rewarded by his appreciation of Ramesh at IIM, Ahmedabad as a 'performing' minister; notably the Gandhi scion forgetting to mention the likes of Pranab Mukherjee, the principal trouble shooter of the government.
Therefore, how much damage control can this half-hearted clarification from the Prime Minister can make really remains to be seen?
Objective analysis at this juncture suggests that by Ramesh remarks at international for a, New Delhi has definitely crossed a red line previously seen as inviolate and is also marking a virtual culmination of dilution of its commitment to the
Kyoto Protocol. Rightly summed by his critics at the moment is inescapable conclusion that India had gone along with the US line on climate negotiations.
Sunita Narain, Director, CSE, said, “The minister has shifted goalpost unnecessarily, even when we are not getting anything in return. Instead of putting pressure the entire strategy should be to somehow let the US get off the hook.”
The climate change negotiations is a long drawn battle. But Ramesh has probably committed a blunder for India.
There is a feeling that this US-tilt was deliberate and was with prior sanction of the PMO- Dr Singh's citadel and the foreign policy engine room.