Chandigarh, Oct 06: As the controversy over his
alleged attempt to bribe a witness in Jessica Lall murder case
snowballed following a sting operation, Haryana Power Minister
Venod Sharma, whose son Manu is the main accused, resigned
Sharma`s resignation came in the wake of opposition
parties stepping up their campaign for his ouster after a
television news channel and a news magazine carried out a
sting operation on camera which exposes Sharma`s alleged
attempt to bribe a key witness from retracting his statement
to help his son.
Manu Sharma was among the nine acquitted by the trial
court seven years ago but now Delhi a court is trying the case
Venod Sharma sent his resignation to Congress president
Sonia Gandhi informing her that he does not wish to remain a
minister till the case against his son is decided, according
to AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, incharge of party
affairs in Haryana.
Sharma said he has informed Chief Minister Bhupinder
Singh Hooda and left it to Gandhi to decide on sending the
resignation to Hooda to be forwarded to the Governor for
acceptance, they said.
An official spokesman said Haryana Governor has accepted
Sharma`s resignation. Haryana`s opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), led
by former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, and other
organisations have been pressing for Venod Sharma`s dismissal
in the wake of the sting operation.
Tehelka had carried out a three-month sting operation
against three key witnesses -- Shayan Munshi, Karan Rajput,
and Shiv Das -- who had turned hostile in the ramp model
murder case leading to the acquittal of Manu Sharma.
The operation had sought to reveal how money and muscle
power were allegedly used to coerce the three witnesses into
changing their stand in court despite having given statements
to the police accusing manu of killing the ramp model at a
restaurant in Delhi on the night of April 29, 1999.
Shortly after the registration of the case against his
son, Venod Sharma had resigned as the head of Chandigarh unit
of Congress and was virtually in political wilderness till the
Haryana assembly elections last year which brought the party
back to power.
The AICC, which had so far sought to steer clear of the
controversy contending that the matter was subjudice, today
welcomed Sharma`s resignation on moral grounds.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said no FIR has been
lodged against Venod Sharma and there is no case against him.
Hooda said Sharma resigned on moral grounds and keeping
in mind the high traditions of the Congress party.
Jessica`s sister Sabrina termed Sharma`s resignation a
right step saying it will send out a message to all those
politicians who think they can get away with anything.
"There were reports that the sharmas had influenced
witnesses, giving money or whatever pressure. So I think he
has done the right thing," she told a private news channel.