Jayanthi quits government ahead of likely Congress rejig (Third Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 21: Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan resigned from the Manmohan Singh ministry Saturday, triggering speculation that more ministers may follow suit to take up new roles in a likely party rejig ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

“I expressed my desire to work for the party in view of the Lok Sabha elections, at what level is for the high command to decide,” Natarajan said.

A statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted her resignation. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily has been given additional charge of the environment and forests ministry.

With a party rejig high on the agenda of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, more ministers may resign in the coming days and weeks to play different roles in the party as it gears up for the Lok Sabha polls scheduled April-May.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot and Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia are the others likely to go Natarajan’s way, said party sources.

The rejig was being talked about in party circles after the Congress’ rout in four state assembly polls Dec 8.

“Responsibility is given to a person depending upon his or her utility in the party. This is not new. Whatever decision is taken, we will always work to strengthen the party,” Pilot said after Natarajan resigned.

Gandhi heads the 2014 poll coordination panel in which Ramesh, known as an election strategist, is a member.

IANS