This Article is From Feb 15, 2015

No Direction from Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi During My Tenure, Says Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh

Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh. (File photograph)

New Delhi:

Days after former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan quit alleging interference in the running of the ministry, her predecessor Jairam Ramesh said he faced no such issues.

"I can say that during my tenure, I never received any direction from Sonia or Rahul Gandhi on how to run the ministry," Mr Ramesh told NDTV ahead of the launch of his book 'Green Signals', which records his 25-month tenure in the environment ministry between 2009 and 2011.

Ms Natarajan had alleged that she had been given specific directions on clearances of mega projects from Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi's office and was later made the scapegoat. Mr Gandhi had accepted that he had asked Ms Natarajan to "protect the environment and the tribals," but claimed she had attacked him at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Refusing to answer questions about Ms Natarajan's allegations, Mr Ramesh said, "You will have to ask her about that."

Mr Ramesh said when he took charge of the ministry, his brief came from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr Singh, he said, had asked him to bring transparency in the functioning of the ministry, which had been dubbed "ATM ministry" owing to frequent charges of corruption.

His new book, too, records that instance.

"Immediately after taking over I met with Prime Minister Manmohan  Singh, who had recruited me to the Planning Commission back in1986 and with whom I had worked closely both in government and  in the Congress party. He told me that the environment ministry had acquired a reputation for corruption and I should introduce a culture of transparency and accountability," read a passage.

The book also contains numerous records, including letters and correspondences, between him and the former PM and other leaders during his tenure as the environment minister.

Regarding the verdict in Delhi assembly elections, he said it was a wake-up call for the Congress. But asked about the call to bring Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a leadership role, he said, "Solutions do not lie in one person. We need to stop cutting each other down."

"Our expectations from Delhi were not grandiose. The knock on the BJP in Delhi was worse than it was for the Congress," Mr Ramesh further said. "It was a complete demolition for the BJP and effectively a referendum on PM Modi and BJP party president Amit Shah."