30/01/2015 6:40 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Congress Ministers Hit Back At Jayanthi Natarajan

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NEW DELHI, INDIA - JULY 21: Senior leader of Congress Digvijay Singh at the Parliament during budget session on July 21, 2014 in New Delhi, India. The government rejected calls for a parliament resolution on the Gaza violence and said the need of the hour was to support the Egyptian-backed ceasefire proposal. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

As former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan trained her guns on Rahul Gandhi, senior Congress leaders today rubbished her charge that he interfered in her functioning as minister, terming the charge "absolutely false" and dubbing her an "opportunist".

"I really don't know what was the issue. First of all, it is absolutely wrong that either Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi ever interfered in the functioning of the UPA government. The Ministers were free to take their decisions," Digvijay Singh told reporters here. Maintaining that Rahul Gandhi was the "last person" to interfere in the functioning of any ministry, he said if he wanted to, he could have become the Prime Minister.

Natarajan's allegations were "uncalled for," he said. "The allegations made by Narendra Modi on something called Jayanti tax (during Lok Sabha poll campaign).... now she has to reply and make it clear whether Narendra Modi's allegations are correct or not," Singh said.

In a sharp attack, former Minister M Veerappa Moily who succeeded Natarajan as Minister for Environment, called her an opportunist. "She is an opportunist. She has never been consistent with Congress party. She joined Congress when it came to need not take her allegations seriously, it is absolutely false..."

"I don't know what is the motive behind this .making allegations against our Vice President Rahul Gandhi is absolutely baseless and it is motivated," Moily told reporters here. "I think it is may be a part of link of the grand design to malign the party and its leadership, which we don't subscribe." he added.

Moily said he had held different portfolios and had never come across any incident where either Congress President or Vice President interfered in the administration.

"I don't know know what made her to give such kind of a statement which is not in keeping with the discipline of the party, with the Ministerial responsibilities."

"Any Minister... they cannot say that I have done this just because of interference... that means to say she is unfit to be a Minister. I don't think that Ministerial responsibility can take any interference." Describing Rahul Gandhi as "simple and fair minded", he said he is not interested in administration.

Jayanthi Natarajan quit the party today and mounted a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi, claiming she had followed his directions on green nod to projects, but was "vilified, humiliated and sidelined" by central leadership.

Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan today dismissed the allegations levelled by former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, saying there was "neither pressure nor interference" from the party leadership.

Chavan, known to have been close to the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said, "We get so many letters and delegations from interested persons, but as a minister, one is expected to go by the rule book and not to favour anyone. If she has done any illegal things, it should be probed."