Jayanthi Natarajan-- Gandhi family loyalist
New Delhi: Jayanthi Natarajan, the only
woman face from Tamil Nadu in the Congress and a known
loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family, makes a comeback to the
Union Council of Ministers after a gap of nearly 13 years.
Natarajan(57) has an arduous task ahead since she
steps into the shoes of high profile and activist minister
Jairam Ramesh who had given teeth to the environment ministry
which he held as independent charge.
Grand-daughter of veteran Congressman and former Tamil
Nadu Chief Minister M Bakthavatsalam, Natarajan, was a
practising lawyer in Chennai before she joined politics in the
1980s and has held a number of posts in Congress, including
that of the party's national spokesperson for years.
She was noticed by the then Congress President Rajiv
Gandhi who made her a Rajya Sabha MP in 1986. She was
re-elected to the Upper House in 1992, 1997 and in 2008.
It will be a home coming of sorts for Natarajan, who
will be the Environment and Forests Minister in the Manmohan
Singh cabinet, as she is back in the Union Ministry after a
brief stint as Minister of State for Civil Aviation under I K
Gujral as a member of the Tamil Maanila Congress(TMC).
Natarajan joined the TMC floated by late Congress
veteran G K Moopanar in 1996 after differences with the then
Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and was rewarded with a MoS
berth for her loyality.
After their TMC merged with Congress in 2002 following
Moopanar's death, Natarajan too joined the party and was made
it spokesperson four years back.
An articulate speaker, Natarajan has often won kudos
for communicating the party's views with ease and comfort
before the cameras.
She had always been in the forefront fighting for
women's rights and headed a Parliamentary Committee that
looked into the Women's Reservation Bill.
She has also been involved with a number of social
organizations including the All India Women's Conference, and
the legal aid board.