Virbhadra, wife charged in graft case
Union minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were charged with conspiracy and corruption in a 23-year-old graft case by a special court in Shimla on Monday.india Updated: Jun 26, 2012 01:02 IST
Union minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were charged with conspiracy and corruption in a 23-year-old graft case by a special court in Shimla on Monday. The charges were based on an audio CD and the court maintained there was sufficient evidence to proceed against them. Singh, 78, who was chief minister of Himachal Pradesh back then, denied the charges, saying the case was "totally fabricated" by the current BJP government. But hours after the verdict he met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi and reportedly offered to resign his post as the minister for small, micro and medium industries, as he did not want to “embarrass the party and the prime minister”. The Congress, however, ruled out any immediate possibility of a resignation. “There is no such move,” said Birendra Singh, the party in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. Congress sources said the Central leadership would go through the contents of the judgment before taking any decision. Though the party has always stood behind Singh in the CD issue, it would be tough to antagonise Singh at a time when the state is heading for assembly polls. The Congress is desperately seeking to regain the state from the BJP. Earlier, amid a chorus of demands for his resignation, especially from the BJP, Singh said, “This is a concocted, totally fabricated case. The CD is not authenticated. They have not compared my voice.” The CD, which was released by Singh’s arch-rival, former Congress minister Vijay Singh Mankotia in May 2007, purportedly has a conversation with IAS officer Mohinder Lal and some industrialists regarding bribes in exchange for investment in the state. During the conversation, Singh, who was then chief minister, also purportedly demanded more money.