Hitting back at Narendra Modi, former union minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Sunday said she was targeted since as the environment minister she had stoutly opposed destruction of environment under BJP-ruled Gujarat.
"It is a targeted personal attack. I totally deny what he says. It is completely baseless. There are major green violations in Gujarat. He was destroying the environment. I was opposed to his destruction of environment," Natarajan said.
Modi had earlier on Sunday made a veiled reference to the removal of Jayanti Natarjan from environment ministry saying for the first time he had heard of "Jayanti tax" apparently referring to allegations during her tenure.
"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.
"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 they have developed," the BJP prime ministerial candidate said during a rally in Panaji.
Natarajan said that Modi was trying to intimidate her but he will not succeed.
"He is only trying to intimidate me into silence and stop attacking him. But I cannot be and will not be intimidated," she said in an apparent reference to her criticism by Modi on various political issues.
Petroleum minister Verappa Moily took over the green ministry around three weeks back after Natarajan was removed.
She had earlier dismissed reports that her removal was because she held up clearances to projects and insisted that she resigned on her own.
Her "resignation" had triggered speculation whether her exit was related to the party work or due to reported complaints from industry that her ministry was holding up environmental clearances to projects.