National

Congress silent on raids on Jayanthi Natarajan

The former Environment Minister had earlier hobnobbed with BJP leadership, says party leader

Every time the CBI acted against a former UPA Minister, the Opposition called it “an act of political vendetta”. But in the case of former Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, whose premises were raided by the agency on Saturday for “diverting 55.79 acres of forest land for non-forest use”, there was a studied silence.

Former Minister Manish Tewari was the only one who voiced his support for Ms. Natarajan. “Former spokesperson and ministerial colleague is not in INC [Indian National Congress] but CBI raids smack of vendetta. Did she refuse to play the ball against Congress leaders,” tweeted the former Information and Broadcasting Minister. The Congress, however, refrained from making any official comment. “Ms. Natarajan is no longer in the Congress and we have no comments to offer,” said Randeep Surjewala, who heads the communication wing of the party.

The stand taken by the Congress on Ms. Natarajan is in sharp contrast from how it reacted when the incumbent Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s son, Karthi, were questioned by CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities.

 

Unlike the raids on Ms. Natarajan, each of these cases was described as a “political witch-hunt” by an aggressive Congress. Explaining the party position with regard to Saturday raids on Ms. Natarajan, a senior Congress leader said, “She had earlier hobnobbed with the BJP leadership. The action against her has come now only after the BJP has found a new ally in AIADMK.”

Style of functioning

The Congress leader pointed out that the former Environment Minister, who was one of the most recognisable Congress spokespersons, was dropped in December 2013 after “serious questions were raised on her style of functioning.”

Ms. Natarajan was not available for comment. But her tenure as the UPA’s Environment Minister had become a big campaign issue for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who accused the Environment Ministry of imposing “Jayanthi tax” to clear projects. Ms. Natarajan, however, had played down those remarks the day she had announced her decision to quit the Congress after she felt “vilified, humiliated and sidelined.”

Addressing the media, Ms. Natarajan said, “if my own party treats me so badly, why should I blame him. If Modi is talking of Jayanthi Tax, let the CBI investigate. I look forward to it because it will give me an opportunity to explain my position.”

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 2:14:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-silent-on-raids-on-jayanthi/article19656297.ece

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