Senior Congress leader and former union minister Jayanthi Natarajan announced her resignation from the party, saying she had only acted on “specific inputs” from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s office during her tenure as the environment minister.
“I announce my resignation (from the party),” Natarajan told reporters here, adding that she was anguished.
“I feel that the time has come now for me to rethink my association because what happened in the recent past. The Congress is no longer the Congress that I joined,” said Natarajan, who was with the party for over 30 years.
She quit the Congress after writing a letter to Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. She said that 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.
“Received several requests and representations from Rahul Gandhi’s office to ensure that the environment is protected,” said Natarajan who was asked to put in her papers Dec 20, 2013 by then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
“And according to these instructions…I did my duty. I had these projects investigated and some of them I stopped,” she said and added that she got “specific inputs” from Rahul Gandhi’s office.
Despite withstanding the “anger and wrath of all the colleagues who protested that economic progress was being blocked”, Natarajan said she was rewarded for her diligence with orders to resign from the cabinet.
A visibly miffed Natarajan: “After the Congress, I intend to think about my life and future.”
“I have absolutely no plan to join any party,” she said and added that no BJP leader has met her in this connection.
She welcomed a government probe into environmental clearances given by her and demanded that the probe should be transparent.
“I have to set the record straight to uphold the legacy of my family and my reputation,” she said.
Natarajan said that she has sufficient proof of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s specific requests on environmental clearance related to projects. “Let Rahul Gandhi refute it.”
She said she hails from a Congress family and has been “faithful, loyal and utterly loyal to the Gandhi family”.
“Why for a year everyone ruined my reputation” and tarnished the legacy of my family, she asked.
The former union minister said: “I only followed the rules. Did not break the rules.”