Did the Kasturirangan report on protection of Western Ghats prove to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back leading to the sacking of the then Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan in 2013?
The Hindu on Friday scooped a letter written by Jayanthi on November 5, 2014, to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, recalling the “excruciating mental agony” she underwent following her unceremonious sacking.
In her letter to Sonia Gandhi, she noted that she was sacked a day after she notified the Kasturirangan report on December 19, 2013.
The letter said: “After my removal as Minister, there was widespread news coverage in the Kerala media that my removal was because I had notified the order on protection of the Western Ghats, the Kasturirangan Committee report, on December 19, 2013, (just one day before my removal) which had been bitterly opposed some sections of society in Kerala, who felt that this order would adversely affect their economic interests, and had expressed their opposition to the Prime Minister and to you. Nevertheless, in the interest of protecting the environment, and pursuant to orders of court, I took that important decision. My successor Shri Veerappa Moily, put my orders on hold.”
In her letter, the four-time MP, recalled her long association with the Congress. “My grandfather who was the last Congress Chief Minister of the State, my aunt who was a selfless social worker, have etched the name of my family in the annals of our history as patriots and nationalists. I myself have served the Congress party from 1984, have been a four time MP, and a former Minister of State, without a single blemish on my reputation, in terms of integrity in public life, and my loyalty to my party and my country.”
Further, the letter stated: “To recall the sequence of events, I would like to record, that I was carrying out my duties as Minister of State (I/C) Environment and Forests in the routine course, when suddenly that day on December 20, 2013, the then PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh summoned me to his office. When I entered he stood up from his chair, looking tense and grim, and uttered these exact words. He said “Jayanthi, I have been told by Congress President, that your services are required for party work.” I was puzzled, and I said, “Yes Sir. So what should I do?” He replied, “She wants you to resign.” I was shocked and said, “Resign Sir? But when?” He replied “Today.” I once again asked him if this was what the Congress president wished. He answered in the affirmative. Unsuspecting, and trusting you totally, I did not utter a single word, but smiled at him and said I would comply with the wishes of the Congress President.”
“The same day, namely, the day after I resigned, Shri Rahul Gandhi addressed a FICCI meeting of industrialists, where he made uncomplimentary references to delays in environmental clearances, and the adverse effects upon the economy, and assured the corporate world, that the party and government would henceforth ensure that there would be no delays, and bottlenecks for industry. After being alerted by the media, I saw the entire speech on YouTube. It was then that some in the media questioned me if I had been asked to resign immediately, to enable Shri Rahul Gandhi to address FICCI and the corporate world with the news of my resignation in the background.
I wrote a passionate message to Shri Rahul Gandhi, about my removal as Minister, and his speech, at FICCI, and asked him what wrongdoing I had committed to warrant this treatment. I said, that I should have been asked for an explanation, IF I had done anything wrong, as even a murderer has his say in court, and here I don’t even know what, if any wrong doing was committed by me. I told him that my family legacy and my name would be forever ruined, and all I had done was my duty. I asked him to tell me, what wrong I had committed. I asked for time to meet him. He replied that he was “running a little busy” at that time, but that he would meet me a little later.
EDITOR’S TAKE: In the Congress party, only the Gandhis matter. Its tallest leaders are treated like dirt. Even the BJP is going the way of the Congress. Only Prime Minister Narendra Modi matters. Both the parties lack democratic functioning. There is no real democracy in India. We only have a ‘functioning anarchy’.
Almost half a century ago, John Kenneth Galbraith, the US ambassador to India and a renowned economist, had called India a “functioning anarchy”. The implication was that the country did well despite the government not doing much.