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Patil's China visit may save Jairam Ramesh

By Renu Mittal
May 14, 2010 02:31 IST
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The Congress leadership is caught in a bind over Jairam Ramesh. While his support for a major Chinese telecom firm is being taken seriously by the party leadership, what has complicated the issue is the visit of President Pratibha Patil to China from May 26 on a five-day visit.

Sources say that sacking the environment minister over the China issue may put a cloud over the visit of the President, hence efforts have begun within both the Congress and the government to pour cold water over the controversy for the time being to ensure that the President does not have to face any embarrassment.

It is learnt that the one option that is being considered is that instead of sacking the minister over his highly controversial remarks, it may be better to quietly ease him out of the Rajya Sabha and deny him a renomination. The last date for the filing of nominations for the Andhra Pradesh Rajya Sabha seats is June 4.

While Jairam Ramesh was called to the cabinet meeting on Thursday as one of the items was concerned
his ministry and the prime minister also incorporated two of his suggestions, there has been a consistent buzz about his resignation which the minister has himself denied. While a close friend of his, in the PMO has said that Ramesh offered his resignation but the prime minister declined to accept it, but Ramesh himself has denied resigning.
 
The Congress party says they have no knowledge about the minister offering any resignation with a section of the party saying that the chapter is closed while another section says that the issue can only be closed when the prime minister and the Congress president decide to close it.

While a senior official in the PMO has said that the issue is serious enough to warrant Jairam's apology to the party and the nation, the union I&B Minister Ambika Soni said it is for the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi to take a call on Ramesh and whether he should continue in the council of ministers.
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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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