“It is a personal charge against me, it is absolutely false and baseless,” Ms Natarajan told NDTV. “It is an attempt to intimidate me because I speak out against (Mr Modi). I will not be intimidated.”
She also threatened to take legal action ‘as I am advised to take.’
Mr Modi, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the national election due by May, had on Sunday made a veiled reference to Ms Natarjan’s exit from the green ministry last month, saying he had heard of “Jayanthi tax” for the first time.
“There was a storm over the environment ministry and all files were blocked. No file was moving without money. We had heard of income, sales and excise taxes but for the first time, we heard about a Jayanthi tax in Delhi without which nothing was moving,” said the Gujarat Chief Minister at a rally in Goa, making a reference to stalled mining projects in the state.
“Till the time that was not paid, files could not be moved in the environment ministry. I have never experienced it myself as I never need it but we are shocked over this. What kind of systems have they developed?” (read: Highlights of Narendra Modi’s speech in Goa)
Ms Natarajan hit back, saying she was being targeted as she had strongly opposed projects harmful to the environment in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
She said she had stopped mining in Goa because the state’s BJP government had overlooked major violations and had a lot to answer for.
Ms Natarajan stepped down as Environment Minister on December 21 and Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily took over the ministry. She has denied speculation that she was removed for holding back clearances to projects and said she quit on her own, to focus on party work ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.