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Jayanthi Natarajan quits Congress: As it happened

Jayanthi Natarajan 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.

Jayanthi Natarajan quits Congress: As it happened

New Delhi: Jayanthi Natarajan 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:

  • Serious allegations was the reasons behind her departure, otherwise why would she depart – Singhvi
  • If Jayanthi Natarajan had a problem she should have given up her position then, no? - Singhvi to reporters
  • This entire episode appears to be an 'image-bachao abhiyaan' - Singhvi
  • All assertions by Ms Natrajan are factually wrong.
  • On the snoopgate issue, four women Congress leaders - Girija Vyas, Shobha Oza, Rita Bahuguna Joshi an Jayanthi Natarajan had spoken from the podium here that day - Singhvi
  • It appears that she follows the pro-rich, pro-corporate policy of the present dispensation.
  • If she had acted as per Congress' policy of pro-poor, pro-deprived, then why is she speaking like this against Congress vice-president.
  • Congress policy regarding tribal welfare is well-known; Rahul Gandhi had visited Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha well before Jayanthi Natarajan was made environment minister - Singhvi
  • Congress' policy on environment is an open policy; the same has been documented in our manifestos – Singhvi
  • It's strange that after seeking several important responsibilities in the party she is now hitting out at all and sundry.
  • The timing of this letter is questionable considering that Delhi polls are around the corner.
  • It's the same masters who have now directed the disclosure of the letter three months after it was written - Singhvi
  • The parties and corporate leaders at whose behest she wrote the letter are the ones who coined the term 'Jayanthi tax' - Singhvi
  • Ms Natarajan appears to be in minority of one that she does not know the reasons behind her removal.
  • It is saddening to see that someone who got four terms in the government chose to release a diatribe which is factually untrue – Singhvi
  • Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi is addressing a press conference.
  • BJP leader Subramanian Swamy says a case could be registered against Rahul Gandhi based on the allegations levelled against him in Jayanthi Natarajan's letter.
  • If Rahul ever wanted to interfere in the government's functioning, he could himself have become the minister or the prime minister - Digvijay
  • It is absolutely wrong to say that either Mr Rahul Gandhi or Mrs Sonia Gandhi ever interfered with the functioning of the government, says Congress leader Digvijay Singh in response to Jayanthi Natarajan's allegations.
  • Don't know how many times I asked for an appointment with the high command? I didn't get one ever. When I am feeling miserable, what do I do? asks Jayanthi
  • Why was I removed as minister 100 days before Lok Sabha elections? I still have no answer to it - Jayanthi
  • When my own party has cheated me so badly, why should I blame Mr Modi. In fact, I had attacked him strongly.
  • I am not accusing anybody of corruption; if PM Modi has spoken of 'Jayanthi tax' let them investigate. I welcome any probe - Jayanthi
  • I refute allegations that I am being blackmailed to say all this ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections. I have no connections with any corporate - Jayanthi
  • After (leaving) Congress, I plan to think about my life. I have absolutely no plans to join any party - Jayanthi
  • 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 the primary membership of the Congress as well as trustee of the Tamil Nadu Congress – Jayanthi
  • I have nowhere said that there was interference from the party leadership. What I have said is that there were specific instructions - Jayanthi
  • I have done no wrong; if anyone can prove this I am willing to be hanged, 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
  • I wrote a passionate email to Rahul Gandhi after his FICCI speech asking, “I want to know why you did this”. To which he replied, “I’m a little busy right now, I will call you later”, but he never called - 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 had praised my work; no wrongdoing was ever 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, 2013 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 then BJP's PM candidate - Jayanthi
  • The second issue was of me being asked by the party to attack PM 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 the protection of tribal rights.
  • Madam Sonia Gandhi was also interested in forest rights.
  • I had to face the wrath of my Cabinet colleagues.
  • I also believe environment should be protected at all costs.
  • I had received instructions from Rahul Gandhi to ensure protection of tribal rights.
  • But, I have now had to rethink my association with the Congress. The Congress is no longer the Congress I had joined - Jayanthi
  • I am grateful to my party leadership for allowing me to serve the party and the nation.
  • I have served as Congress spokesperson for 10 long years.
  • I have served the party without blemish ever since I joined it.
  • Congress blood runs in my veins - Jayanthi
  • It's an extremely painful moment for me. My family has been associated with the 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.