In a counter-offensive, the Congress on Friday raked up allegations of corruption against former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, saying questions about her functioning were raised by industrialists who claimed that crucial files were cleared from her Chennai home.
The entire party also rallied around Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi whom Natarajan virtually accused of interference in the environment ministry and blamed her exit on the party high command.
The Congress insisted that she was acting at the behest of her new "political masters".
"In Mumbai, industrialists did complain to me about her... They said in the presence of senior secretaries of the government that files were cleared from Chennai," Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said.
Asked if there were corruption allegations against her, Sharma said, "Well, that is what they (industrialists) complained about... that question has to be answered by Jayanthi or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who frequently attacked her with the 'Jayanthi tax' barb".
Reacting to this charge, Natarajan asked why she should react to such falsehood being spread On another charge of she taking files to Chennai, she said: "It is a complete falsehood. People like (Anand Sharma) are spreading such stories and that was the reason I quit."
Another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Natarajan's "special remarks" against Rahul appeared to be "inspired" by the BJP which is on "slippery ground" in the run-up to Delhi elections.