Virbhadra Singh resigns as Union Minister



Virbhadra Singh resigns as Union Minister Zeenews Bureau

Shimla: Tainted Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh a day after a local court framed corruption charges against him and his wife Pratibha Singh.

Singh quit on moral grounds after being slapped with charges of conspiracy and corruption in a 23-year-old case, sources close to him said.

The 78-year-old Union Minister for handed over his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after meeting him at his residence in the national capital

“I have tendered my resignation to the PM as I did not want to embarrass him. I have quit on moral grounds and I will now devout time to fight the graft allegations leveled against me,” he said.

"The evidence is concocted. The CD has not been authenticated. They have not compared my voice," he informed reporters.

He had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi last evening in connection with the case.

When asked yesterday whether he would resign, he said, "I don't care for my office at all. I don't want to embarrass my party and the Prime Minister. As and when the occasion arises, certainly I will take appropriate action".

Asked about the resignation, AICC general secretary in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Birender Singh said the party had not asked him to resign and if anything has been done, it would have been done on his own by the Minister.

The resignation of Singh, a five time Chief Minister, has come just a few months ahead of the Assembly elections in his native state.

His resignation comes amid mounting pressure from the opposition on the UPA government to sack him from the Union Cabinet in the wake of graft allegations leveled against him.

Singh recently celebrated his birthday and completed 50 years in politics.

Soon after the court’s decision, Singh himself announced that he would step down from his position to save his party from further embarrassment.

“My conscience is clear and no one has ever raised any finger on my honesty. I will fight the graft case against me and my family,” he said.

Virbhadra Singh was farmed under Sections 7, 11 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and his wife was charged under Section 9 of the Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the IPC.

The prosecution had filed the chargesheet against the couple in October 2010.

Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh were booked by the state police on August 3, 2009, under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged misuse of his official position and criminal misconduct when he was the chief minister of the state in 1989.

According to the police, the couple was booked on the basis of an audio cassette released by Virbhadra Singh's political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007.

The cassette allegedly contained Virbhadra's telephonic conversation with Indian Administrative Service officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead.

It also contained voices of his wife and some industrialists, who have been identified by police, proposing to invest in the state.

Defence counsel had contended that the case was frivolous and it was registered on the basis of an audio cassette whose origin, source and authenticity were not known.

Himachal Pradesh is currently being run by the BJP.

With PTI Input