Virbhadra resigns on corruption charges

The union minister Virbhadra Singh resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a Himachal Pradesh court framing charges of corruption against him. He has become the third minister in the present United Progressive Alliance government to step down due to corruption charges.

A five-time chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, the 78-year-old Singh, the union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his Race Course Road residence before announcing the resignation.

'The president of India, as advised by the prime minister, has accepted the resignation of Virbhadra Singh from the union council of ministers, with immediate effect,' a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.

The science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has been given additional charge of the MSME ministry.

A veteran Congress leader, Singh said that he resigned on moral grounds. 'No one asked me to quit. This my moral duty, as I did not want to embarrass my party, the PM or the government,' he told reporters.

Singh's decision came a day after the Himachal court framed charges of corruption and criminal misconduct against him and his wife Pratibha Singh in a 23-year-old case, saying that there was sufficient evidence to proceed against them. The minister, who had met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday evening, dismissed as 'totally fabricated' the allegations against him.
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