The Congress camp was upbeat on Wednesday as the party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi, departing from his usual style, gave a fiery speech at a rally here, defending himself against the allegations levelled by former Minister Jayanthi Natarajan.

Admitting that he had sent letters to Natarajan on ecological issues, Rahul said they only were in the interests of the weaker section. He alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitted Natarajan against him to target the Congress. The Nehru scion claimed that the UPA was damaged politically for passing the Land Acquisition Act and other farmer-friendly policies.

Though Congress spokespersons have been busy defending Rahul on the issue, both party president Sonia Gandhi and her son have been silent on Natarajan’s exit.

Rahul chose the election rally in Delhi to make his version clear on the allegations against him.

The Amethi MP claimed that he fought for the poor and adivasis. “I had told Jayanthi Natarajan that we should look into the welfare of the environment, poor and the adivasis. I will continue to fight for the poor and the weaker sections,” he said, adding that he is not afraid of writing such letters to anyone.

Pointing to differences in the policies of the Congress and the BJP, he said his party has a history of fighting against forcible land acquisition. Modi is working for a select group of corporate houses, he alleged. “Congress works for the benefit of the poor, not for some industrialists,” said Rahul.

Natarajan had alleged that decisions on the request for environmental clearances from several industrial houses were delayed following directions from Rahul’s office.

Listing the efforts

At the rally, Rahul listed out the efforts of his party in Bhatta Parsaul and Niyamgiri, where massive land acquisition had taken place. “We fought in Bhatta Parsaul and Niyamgiri. We passed the Land Acquisition Act to protect the interests of farmers and tribal people,” he added.

Earlier, authorities could have easily snatched anyone’s land for industrialists, he pointed out. “In Noida, 2,000 acres of land was allotted to Formula One. Thousands of acres was snatched from farmers. We stood with them, waged a battle and got the Land Acquisition Bill passed. People from BJP opposed but we got the Bill passed. It was not an easy job,” he claimed.