Launching a fresh attack against Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi, BJP on Wednesday accused the Gandhi family of interfering with UPA’s functioning during its rule and reducing the then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “just a titular head”. Addressing a press conference, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, “Manmohan Singh was just the face. The real power of the party was with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.”
Releasing a series of alleged email exchanges between Rahul Gandhi and Jayanthi Natarajan, the then-UPA Environment Minister, Goyal accused the party of “stalling projects in Gujarat”. “In UPA, how projects were stalled and environment ministry was used is evident in the email. Rahul Gandhi opposed Nirma and instructed Jayanthi Natarajan to not give environmental clearance. Was willing to kill jobs in Gujarat to undermine to hurt developmental agenda of Narendra Modi,” he said.
The matter pertains to land allotted to Nirma Ltd for a cement plant by the Gujarat government in 2008. However, the UPA government objected to setting up of the plant since the area was an environmentally sensitive wetland that supported the local people in their agriculture.
Goyal said that the email exchanges showed that Natarajan was even willing to visit the house of personal secretary of Rahul Gandhi. He also accused Gandhi of giving “guidance” and instructions to Natarajan over Lavasa issue. “During the rule of UPA, there was high political interference in matters of public policy.”
Asserting that Rahul Gandhi had limited political acumen, Goyal also released an email where Gandhi allegedly asked Natarajan to clear the Amethi-Rae Bareily highway that was pending with the ministry for years. However, Natrajan responded, saying that there was no such proposal with the Ministry of Environment. “Rahul Gandhi was disrespecting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh by giving counter instructions to ministers. Jayanthi Natarajan scuttled GM crops despite being personally told by Manmohan Singh to clear the matter. Manmohan Singh was just the face. Real power was with Sonia and Rahul.”
Natarajan quit the Congress party in 2015 after blaming Rahul Gandhi for interfering and sending her “specific requests” on green clearances for large projects that she duly stopped to accede to. She also added that she was “vilified, humiliated and sidelined” by the party leadership.