In a significant development, former Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan quit the Congress party on Friday. She has been associated with the party for nearly three decades and was a strong leader representing Tamil Nadu. She made the formal announcement at a press meet in Chennai. Jayanthi blamed party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and High Command Sonia Gandhi for her exit.
“I had been associated with the Congress for over 30 years. I represented the fourth generation from my family to serve the Congress Party. I always showed loyalty to Gandhi family, including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. “I was with Rajiv’s dead body when she was assassinated”, she said in a choked voice.
“There is no internal democracy left in the Congress now. My own party leaders have damaged the image of the party beyond repair. I don’t have any qualms against Tamil Nadu unit of the Congress. Rather, my grievances are against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. My voices were silenced. I was not allowed to present my views,” she said.
Jayanthi also revealed that Rahul Gandhi was interfering in all government matters and even influenced the decisions. She also claimed that a file related to Adani Group had gone missing during the environment clearance process and then was found in a bathroom. “I was forced to attack Narendra Modi on snoopgate even though I was against such personal attacks”, she claimed.
“If I have done anything wrong, I am ready to be hanged. But, I won’t tolerate the injustice and humiliation any more. I feel suffocated in this party now. I can’t continue any more,” she said. According to Jayanthi, she had stopped many projects on the basis of environmental clearance at the behest of Rahul Gandhi.
In her letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, Natarajan said as the union environment minister she followed the party line with regard to protection of environment and also to “requests” from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s office.
The letter was published by the daily ‘The Hindu’ on Jan 30 said: “Madam, I write to you with a very heavy heart. Over the last 11 months, I have suffered the most excruciating mental agony, and have been continuously attacked, wrongly vilified and defamed in the media, and exposed to every possible humiliation in public life.”
“As I write today, more than 30 years of my loyal, faithful, and dedicated service to our party stand destroyed and in shambles around me. My entire career is ruined, and above all, the sacred and venerable legacy of my family, which served our nation and party with immense distinction, and patriotism stands in danger of being tarnished.”
The Tamil Nadu unit of the Congress has been taken by surprise by the outpourings of former union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan to party president Sonia Gandhi. Natarajan was asked to put down her papers Dec 20, 2013, by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Narrating the sequence of events that led to her resignation Natarajan said she was asked by Singh to resign as the Congress president required her services for party work.
Jayanthi Natarajan said she took great care to ensure the interests of tribals in Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha were protected after Rahul Gandhi publicly declared to Dongria Kondh tribals that he would be their sipahi/soldier and would not allow their interests to suffer at the hands of the mining giant Vedanta.
“So in my decision making I have factored in the party line despite all criticisms against me and therefore several decisions of mine were expressly overruled by the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh),” Natarajan said. (With inputs from IANS)