In his first reaction to former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s allegation of interference, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that he had intervened for the benefit of tribals. He also alleged that the BJP had fielded Natarajan against him.
“Ek din maine Modiji ke baare mein kuch kaha, agle din unhone Natarajan ko khada kiya (One day, I said something about Modi, the next day, they fielded Natarajan),” he said at a rally here.
“Yes, I asked Jayanthi Natarajan to protect the environment and the Adivasis. I am not afraid to say it,” he said.
Natarajan, who quit the Congress last week, had alleged that Rahul sent her “specific requests” on green clearances for big ticket projects, which she duly stopped to “honour those requests”. Natarajan claimed she followed Rahul’s directions but he later “changed his stand in favour of corporates” and she was “vilified, humiliated and sidelined” by the party leadership.
“The maximum corruption in this country concerns land… the UPA-II suffered political losses for bringing the Land Acquisition Bill, but we passed it,” said Rahul today, adding that his party had fought for the poor in Bhatta Parsaul and Niyamgiri.
Rahul also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of ignoring the poor. “There has been a drop in global crude oil prices but has that benefit reached you? If it hasn’t reached you, who is benefiting from it?” he asked.
Referring to recent incidents of communal violence in Delhi, Rahul said while the BJP talks of development, it “makes Hindus and Muslims fight.”
Criticising the BJP for stating that it would make Delhi free of Congress, he said, “The Congress stands for brotherhood and harmony. If that is what they want to rid Delhi of, then you have to answer them.”
Rahul promised that if the Congress is voted to power, it would end contract labour within one week and grant land ownership rights to “everyone in Delhi” within two years.
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