Serious allegations led to ouster: Cong

Serious allegations led to ouster: Cong

The Congress on Friday came out all guns blazing against Jayanthi Natarajan who quit the party after accusing Rahul Gandhi of directing her decisions as Environment Minister.

The Congress launched a strong counter-attack on Natarajan, claiming she was removed from the Council of Ministers following “serious allegations” on her functioning.

“There were serious allegations in the public domain,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, but he also admitted that they were “not provable”.

He said the decision for Natarajan’s removal as Union minister was due to “political reasons” and “well-considered”. “Her departure was discussed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the then prime minister Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Questioning the timing of Natarajan’s claims, Singhvi said the “special remarks” against Rahul were made at the behest of her “new political masters” who had “coined the term Jayanthi tax”. He did not name the BJP but the reference was apparent at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had used the phrase during the Lok Sabha election campaign.

Former ministers Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, M Veerappa Moily, Anand Sharma jumped to the defence of Rahul, who himself remained silent.

“As Jayanthi 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,” Ramesh said in a statement here.

The Congress dubbed Natarajan’s actions as “hypocritical and opportunistic”. “It is an image-saving mission by her. Not has she once orally or in writing articulated these thoughts,” Singhvi said.

The Congress saw a “deeper conspiracy” in her allegations as the Modi government had given clear indications for launching a CBI probe into the decisions taken during her tenure as minister.

The Grand Old Party also scoffed at Natarajan’s claims of being “sidelined” in the party. “Of the 29 years she spent in the party, Natarajan was a member of the Rajya Sabha for 24 years. She held key positions without contesting a single election,” a senior leader said.
Congress leaders admitted Natarajan’s accusations against the top leadership could dent the party’s prospects in the February 7 Assembly elections in Delhi.

“I have handled several ministries. I have not come across any instance where the Congress president or vice-president interfered with administration. I don’t know what made her to make that statement against discipline of the party,” former Union minister M Veerappa Moily said.

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