Sunday, February 25, 2024

Environment Minister Natarajan resigns

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New Delhi: In a shake up ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan resigned on Saturday from the Union Council of Ministers and more may be in line for being drafted into party work.
The resignation of 59-year-old Natarajan, Minister of State with independent charge of Environment and Forests, has been accepted by the President, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.
It also said that Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily will hold additional charge of the Environment Ministry. Natarajan, a senior member of Rajya Sabha doing a third term, hails from Tamil Nadu and was brought into the ministry two years ago.
Sources said Natarajan, who has, of late, been more visible on television channels defending the party, may be drafted for organisation work.
Sources said there could be some more ministers who could resign to be brought to party organisation in preparation for the elections.
Names doing the speculative rounds in this regard are Jairam Ramesh (Rural Development), Sachin Pilot (Corporate Affairs) and Jitender Singh Bhanwar (MoS-Defence).
In the wake of the rout in Rajasthan Assembly elections, Pilot’s name is being talked about as a possible PCC chief.
There is also talk of a reshuffle in the AICC in which some general secretaries may be dropped. Bhanwar, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, is a possible candidate for general secretaryship in the AICC. He had earlier been an AICC Secretary.
In line for change is PCC chief’s post in Haryana which may go to AICC Secretary Ashok Tanwar.
In Haryana, the appointment of a new PCC chief to replace Phulchand Mulana is long overdue, while in Rajashtan, PCC chief Chandrabhan has resigned from the state chief’s post after the party’s debacle in the recent Assembly elections.
Chandrabhan himself lost the election. Young ministers like Jyotiraditya Scindia and R P N Singh could also be given key responsibilities in the party organisation, including in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Scindia was made Congress campaign committee chief for Madhya Pradesh and though Congress lost, one of the reasons attributed to it was that Scindia was projected as the party’s face there quite late.
The party is in a revamp mode since the last few days and Congress leaders indicate that a major rejig could happen before the January 17 AICC meeting in which the name of the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate could be announced.
On Thursday, the party appointed two new PCC chiefs — Arvinder Singh Lovely and Bhupesh Baghel in Delhi and Chhattisgarh respectively — signalling the intent to bring sweeping changes in state units after its debacle in the recent assembly elections.
Before that, on Wednesday, Congress replaced its Goa PCC chief Subhash A Shirodkar and appointed former MP John Fernandes as the state unit president. There is also speculation about replacement of Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna in Uttarakhand, though the party has officially denied any such move.
Accepting her resignation, the Prime Minister said, “You have been a valued colleague and I thank you for your contribution to the work for the government. “I am sure that your work for our party, for which you are leaving the government, will also be of immense value. I wish you all success in your future endeavours”. (PTI)

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