Cong leaders rally behind Rahul after attack from Natarajan

Cong leaders rally behind Rahul after attack from Natarajan

As former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan targeted Rahul Gandhi, Congress today rallied behind him, dismissing as "completely baseless" the allegations of his interference in the work of Environment Ministry and accused her of having "ulterior motives".

Jairam Ramesh, who was Natarajan's immediate predecessor in the Ministry, said her allegations against Gandhi were "not just completely unfair but also preposterously baseless."

In a statement here, he said, "As Natarajan's immediate predecessor for slightly over 25 months, I can say with all honesty that at no point of time did Rahul Gandhi ever tell me, directly or indirectly, what to do or what not to do in the discharge of my ministerial responsibilities."

Rubbishing the allegations, M Veerappa Moily, who succeeded Natarajan in the Ministry, said Rahul Gandhi had never interfered in the functioning of the ministry.

He said in Bengaluru that neither Rahul nor Sonia Gandhi had any clamour for power and that is why they remained out of government.

"Soniaji could have become the Prime Minister thrice... Rahul ji also could become the Prime Minister anytime," he said, adding both, however, chose to remain away from government.

Congress spokesman P C Chacko said Natarajan has made the "wild allegation" against the party Vice President with an "ulterior motive."

Seeking to puncture Natarajan's charges, he wondered why she did not raise the issue in the party fora for the past one year in spite of several opportunities.

"Not making use of any of the opportunities, if they make this wild allegation, the reason is obvious. It is some ulterior motive. Let them do that......Congress never stops anyone from resigning. So Jayanthi can also go Krishna Tirath way."

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said, "Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi have ever interfered in any government matter. If they wanted to do such thing, they would have become Minister or Prime Minister. All this talk is meaningless".

Taking a dig at Natarajan, he wondered how she has remembered all these things after such a long time.

The reactions of Congress leaders came after Natarajan claimed that as Environment Ministery, she had followed directions of Rahul Gandhi on green nod to projects but was "vilified, humiliated and sidelined" by central leadership.

"I have only followed the party line and rule book on all environment issues. To protect the forest rights of people and the rights of tribals in cases like Vedanata. There was no wrong doing on my part," she asserted at an hurriedly-called press conference in Chennai where she announced her decision to quit the party.

Virtually opening a can of worms, she accused Rahul Gandhi's office of planting stories to sully her reputation after she had resigned as Environment Minister in December 2013 on the direction of Sonia Gandhi. 

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