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Name: Natarajan, Jayanthi
Current Position:


Jayanthi Natarajan has been the Union Cabinet Minister of State for Environment and Forests since July 2011. 


Born on June 7, 1954, Natarajan comes from a prominent Indian National Congress family in Tamil Nadu. Her grandfather, M Bhaktavatsalam, was a freedom fighter who participated in both the Salt Satyagraha and the Quit India movement. After Independence, he served as Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister between 1963-1967.


Like her grandfather, Natarajan studied law (at Ethiraj College and Madras Law College). Drafted by Rajeev Gandhi, scion of India's most prominent political dynasty, she also joined the family business. As a Congress woman, Natarajan was first elected to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house) in 1986 and re-elected in 1992.  “I have no doubt that I had a head start in politics due to my grandfather,” she told CNN-IBN viewers during a live online chat.


In 1996, Natarajan and a few other Congress politicians, most notably P Chidambaram, broke from the Congress. They formed their own party, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). Running under the TMC banner, Natarajan was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1997.  During, IK Gujral's term as India's Prime Minister, she briefly served as the Minister of State for Civil Aviation.


Eventually, the TMC coalition crumbled. Like Chidambaram, Natarajan returned to Congress in 2012. Natarajan eventually caught the attention of Rajeev Gandhi's widow, Sonia, who appointed her party spokesperson.


In February 2011, Natarajan was investigated in an alleged 300 crore bank scam, where she was accused of misusing her links to the national government.  The charges, which remain unresolved, didn't preclude her from being appointed to the committee to examine the 2G Spectrum Scam in March, 2011.  It also didn't stop her appointment to head the Ministry of the Environment and Forests in July 2011. 


Official Biography

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