Union Minister Virbhadra Singh resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a Himachal Pradesh court framing corruption charges against him.
He is the third minister in the UPA-II to quit on similar grounds.
A five-time Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, the 78-year-old Mr. Singh, the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence before announcing his 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,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.
On moral grounds
A veteran Congress leader, Mr. Singh said he has resigned on moral grounds. “No one asked me to quit. This is my moral duty as I did not want to embarrass my party, PM or government,” he told reporters.
Mr. 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 there was sufficient evidence to proceed against them.
The minister, who had met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last evening, dismissed as “totally fabricated” the allegations against him.
“In the last 50 years, I have handled many portfolios like tourism and Steel and during my tenure nobody has questioned my integrity or that of my family,” he said.
Mr. Singh said his resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt as he was going to fight the case to the logical end.