In a big blow, the CBI on Saturday booked former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan for alleged abuse of her official position in diverting forest land for a steel plant in Jharkhand in violation of law, and carried out searches at her residence. The CBI registered an FIR against her in connection with the clearance given during her tenure in 2012 for diversion of forest land for mining in alleged violation of law and against the advice of officials, sources in the investigative agency said. Here are things to know about her:-
– Jayanthi Natarajan is a politician who served as the Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Forests and Environment under Manmohan Singh government at Centre. Natrajan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, was a prominent member of the Sonia Gandhi-led Indian National Congress until her resignation in 2015. Natrajan has been thrice elected Member of Parliament representing her home state of Tamil Nadu in the Rajya Sabha.
– Natrajan hails from a very prominent Tamil Nadu family and her grandfather, M Bakthavatsalam, was the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu between 1963 and 1967.
– Natrajan served as minister from July 2011 to December 2013. Jayanthi’s tenure was marred by controversies as she was accused of promoting red-tapism by halting a number of key projects, particularly mining.
– The leader was even accused by Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate, of halting a number of projects. Modi had said that there was a ‘Jayanti tax’ under her watch at the environment ministry that derailed crucial projects. Jayanthi resigned as Minister of State for Environment and Forest on December 21, 2013.
– In a shock to Congress, Natarajan quit the party On January 30, 2015 and mounted a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi accusing him of interference in Environment ministry during her stint even as Government indicated a review of green clearances of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.
– However, before her shock resignation, Natarajan was considered one of the biggest loyalists of the Congress. Natraja had even claimed she followed Rahul’s directions on the issue of green nod to certain big ticket projects but was “vilified, humiliated and sidelined” by central leadership.
– Natarajan had also said that was ready to face a probe over green clearances granted by her. “I have done no wrong. I am willing to be hanged or go to jail if any concrete proof of my wrongdoing is established,” Natarajan said.