New Delhi: Unfazed with former union minister Jayanthi Natrajan`s exit, Congress leader Anand Sharma Friday dispelled concerns of leadership deficit within his party.
"There is no leadership crisis within the party...the party is much bigger and and it will not evaporate with the exit of small leaders like Natrajan," Sharma told IANS.
Firm on his stand that former environment minister Natrajan "put herself in a corner", Sharma, her ministerial colleague in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA II government, maintained that there was no need to make "martyrs out of zeroes".
Second in a row to exit, Natrajan Friday dealt a sharp blow to the Congress as she quit saying she was shunted despite her diligence in toeing the "party line" and acting on "specific inputs" from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi`s office during her tenure as minister.
Following a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Natrajan snapped ties from a party she served for over 30 years.
"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 Manmohan Singh.
"And according to these instructions...I did my duty. I had these projects investigated and some of them I stopped," she said.
Sharma however contended that Natrajan was defamed by her own actions and by the Bharatiya Janata Party and asked her to file a defamation case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who then as the Gujarat chief minister, initiated the term "Jayanthi Tax".
The term "Jayanthi tax" was popularised following Natarajan`s brief spell as environment minister in 2013, when she was seen as a roadblock to several development projects
Earlier this month, former union minister Krishna Tirath left Congress to join the Bhartiya Janata Party ahead of the Delhi assembly polls.
Taking little notice of the incident, Sharma said "every party has opportunists" and so was Tirath who "enjoyed the fruits of power and when the party was down and under", defected.
On being questioned about Congress general secretary Janardan Diwedi who reportedly praised Modi, setting off a controversy only laid to rest when he said he was "quoted out of context", Sharma said he was very much with the party.
Putting Natrajan in the dock, Sharma said she had to answer about over 100 official files that were retrieved from her office in Chennai after she had resigned as environment minister.
He contended those files should have been at the ministry office in New Delhi instead, projecting that as the reason for delaying several projects that she held Gandhi responsible for.