Congress cornered

Congress cornered

Congress cornered, Resigning from all Congress posts, she has also accused Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of remaining ‘silent’ on her allegations.

Often criticised for his ineffective and confused handling of the Congress party affairs, its Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has for the first time been accused of interfering in the working of the Manmohan Singh government by Jayanthi Natarajan, a long-time Congress lawyer-lawmaker and Minister.

Resigning from all Congress posts, she has also accused Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of remaining ‘silent’ on her allegations. While other Ministers of the erstwhile government have hummed and hawed, and while Natwar Singh wrote a book to settle a personal score, not political, though, with Sonia, Jayanthi’s is the most stinging criticism by a former Minister of the top Congress leadership.

It could be more damaging since she has opened a can of worms on a sensitive issue – environmental clearances given, or not given, on several industrial projects that, she now alleges, were on “specific inputs” and ‘requests,’ dutifully taken as ‘directives,’ from Rahul’s office.

It has been the norm in the Congress, when in power, that Ministers resign or are made to resign on the eve of an election and are drafted for party work. Jayanthi’s December 2013 resignation, too, was seen as such. Now she alleges that Rahul had stories ‘planted’ in the media that hers was not for party work. Plainly, she had been sacked. This, Jayanthi says, humiliated her doubly.

Politically on the back-foot, neither Sonia nor Rahul is likely to reply to her delayed allegations about her “mentally agony” and “humiliation” as a minister, delayed further in being made public. Jayanthi has only now released her letter to Sonia, written on November 5 last year. Indeed, her writing that letter 11 months after she was allegedly made to resign as minister holding independent charge of Environment and Forest, and six-months after her party was defeated in the Lok Sabha polls is inexplicable. It is unlike the lady known for her sharp repartees in the Rajya Sabha and as a Congress spokesperson.

The issue is still ‘live’ in that the NDA that charged the UPA II with “policy paralysis” has now a potent issue of “political interference.” Back in January last year, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, now a union minister, attacked Jayanthi for stalling multi-crore projects. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the then the Gujarat CM, had referred to “Jayanthi Tax” for projects selectively stalled, but speedily cleared when Veerappa Moily took charge of that portfolio. Among them were the controversial Posco project in Odisha, NHPC’s 520 MW Teesta IV in Sikkim and another in Tawang in the northeastern region.

By available indications, Jayanthi is heading for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She hopes to be its pillar when the party is looking for people to build itself in the South. That alone can explain the timing of her resignation, one of the reasons could be the Delhi polls. Or, is she trying to escape a possible probe into delayed projects and loss to the nation?

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