Tainted Virbhadra Singh goes, vows to fight on (Roundup)

June 26th, 2012 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Virbhadra Singh vowed to fight on after resigning Tuesday, a day after a court framed corruption charges against him and his wife.

A former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Singh said hiz first step would be to return to his home state to strengthen the Congress ahead of the February 2013 assembly polls.

“I have submitted my resignation to the prime minister,” the veteran Congress leader told IANS after calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who accepted the resignation.

A later official statement said President Pratibha Patil’s office had accepted his resignation with immediate effect.

A Shimla court Monday framed charges of corruption against him and his wife Pratibha Singh in connection with a 23-year-old case.

The case pertains to a CD from 1989 which allegedly shows him, when he was chief minister, and his wife demanding a bribe to allow investment in Himachal Pradesh.

According to police, the couple was booked Aug 3, 2009 on the basis of the CD released by Singh’s political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia.

Singh is the third cabinet minister to resign on charges of corruption after telecom minister A. Raja and textile minister Dayanidhi Maran.

In 2010, minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor quit after a controversy involving his friend Sunanda Pushkar, now his wife.

On Tuesday, Singh accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Himachal Pradesh of hatching a conspiracy against him. His main target was Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

“The BJP has tried to register false cases against me earlier too…I will fight it out both at the grassroots and in courts,” Singh alter told the media.

“All these allegations have started coming after Dhumal came to power. He is the most corrupt person in Himachal Pradesh and the biggest liar.”

Singh said he had resigned on his own.

“No one asked me to quit. This is my moral duty as I did not want to embarrass my party, the prime minister or the government.

“In the last 50 years, I have handled many portfolios… Nobody has questioned my integrity or that of my family.”

The BJP rejected his allegations.

“The court took the decision, the (state) government had no role at all in it,” former Himachal chief minister and BJP leader Shanta Kumar said.

Another BJP leader, Kalraj Mishra, went a step further, asking Singh to quit politics for good.

The Congress defended him and expressed the hope that he will prove his innocence.

“He has taken moral responsibility…The matter is in the court…a charge sheet has been filed but that does not mean his guilt has been proved,” Congress media department chief Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.

“I hope he will come out of it clean and face his political adversaries effectively,” said Dwivedi.

President Patil has directed Minister of Science and Technology Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh to hold the additional charge of the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises.

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