Thursday, January 29, 2015

LIVE – Jayanthi Natarajan quits Congress, says Rahul instructed her to deny environmental clearances to Vedanta, Adani

New Delhi: Jayanthi Natarajan is likely to quit the Congress on Friday, after a letter written by her to party president Sonia Gandhi on November 5, 2014 was published in the media. Jayanthi, in the letter, accused Rahul Gandhi of interference while she was environment minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

Here are the live updates:

I only did what I was asked to do by the party, I did not do anything wrong - Jayanthi

Today I announce my resignation from primary membership of the Congress as well as trustee of the Tamil nadu Congress – Jayanthi

I have done no wrongdoing; if anyone can prove this I am willing to be hanged, am willing to go to jail - Jayanthi

I have no issues with the state Congress at all; I was sidelined by the national high command - Jayanthi
I have no idea why I was removed as Congress spokesperson - Jayanthi

Rahul had stopped me from issuing environmental clearances to several projects. However, after I resigned he himself told a FICCI conference that environmental clearances would be made easy now – Jayanthi.

At the time I resigned, the then PM praised my work, no wrongdoing was pointed out - Jayanthi

I said I wasn't happy because he (Modi) should be attacked on policy matters but not on snoopgate. But still, I was deputed to attack him - Jayanti

Around November 17, 2014 when I was on a tour, I received a call from Ajay Maken asking me to come back to Delhi. I was later told to launch an attack on Narendra Modi, who was the then BJP PM candidate - Jayanthi

The second issue was of me being asked by the party to attack Narendra Modi on the so-called 'snoopgate'.
Among the projects which were denied permission included the Vedanta project, Nirma project, the Adani project and many others.

Because of all these reasons I had blocked environmental clearances to many projects.

Shri Rahul Gandhi was interested in protection of tribal rights.

Madam Sonia Gandhi was also interested in forest rights.

I have had to face wrath of my Cabinet colleagues.

I also believe environment should be protected at all costs.

I had received instructions from Rahul Gandhi to ensure.  

But, I have now had to rethink my association with the Congress. The Congress is no longer the Congress I joined.

I am grateful to my party leadership for allowing me to serve the party and the nation.

I have served as spokesperson for 10 long years.

I have served the party without blemish ever since I joined it.

Congress blood runs in my veins.

It's an extremely painful moment for me. My family has been associated with Congress since its inception. I am a fourth generation Congress member.

I was not intending to hold the press conference but after my letter appeared in the media, I am meeting with you. I acknowledge the letter that I wrote to Sonia Gandhi.

Jayanthi Natarajan is speaking to the press at Savera Hotel in Chennai.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says he will review the specific files mentioned in Jayanthi's letter. “The revelations made by Jayanthi Natarajan are a matter of grave concern,” he adds.

Jaitley slams UPA government, says the coalition was a practitioner of sadistic economy. “When whims overtake legal requirements this becomes a textbook case of crony capitalism. This sadistic economy which UPA tried to build up was vindictive in nature, wanting to teach lesson to some and favour some."

Growth rate had come down during UPA government. Primary reasons were that there was delay in approval of projects worth lakhs of crores, adds Jaitley.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says, “Former environment minister's letter has emerged today. Issues which were believed to be rumours have been vindicated now.”

Congress leader PC Chacko reacts to reports on Jayanthi Natarajan. He says: “These are baseless allegations; if somebody wants to resign from the party for personal reasons they are free to do so.

Main story: In a big blow to the Congress, senior party leader and former Union minister Jayanthi Natarajan is expected to quit the party on Friday.

As per reports, the former union environment minister is expected to hold a press conference in the afternoon to formally announce her decision.

Jayanthi has reportedly written a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in which she has alleged a motivated campaign against her in the party.

Jayanthi, environment minister in the the UPA cabinet, wrote in the letter dated November 5, 2014 that she was forced to reject big-ticket projects upon receiving specific requests from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on environmental clearances. The projects were denied clearances despite being favoured by then prime minister Manmohan Singh and other Cabinet colleagues.

As per the letter details of which have been revealed by a leading English daily, Jayanthi claimed that she became a victim of a “vicious, false and motivated” media campaign by certain individuals in the party after Rahul Gandhi changed his stance from being pro-environment to being corporate-friendly ahead of last year's Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress leader blamed Rahul's aides for planting stories in the media that sought to project her resignation as environment minister not aimed at “party work”.

She also accused Rahul of interference in day-to-day functioning of the UPA-2 government under Manmohan Singh.

“I received specific requests (which used to be directives for us) from Shri Rahul Gandhi and his office forwarding environmental concerns in some important areas and I took care to honour those requests,” she says in the letter, as per the daily.

Jayanthi says environmental clearance to Vedanta for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha was denied at the request of Rahul Gandhi to protect “the interests of tribals”. This despite the fact that the minister was under pressure from Cabinet colleagues to grant the clearance.

She also alleged interference from the Congress vice-president in projects of the Adani group, and said, “In fact, you (Sonia Gandhi) have yourself conveyed your concern in this regard in letters written to me in several cases, including the stalled GVK power project regarding Dhari Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh, the Lavasa project in Maharashtra, Nirma cement plant in Gujarat and in several other cases I was given specific input to make my decision.”

Jayanthi had resigned in December 2013, months before the May 2014 General Elections. The Congress had then claimed that Jayanthi would instead focus on party work.

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