Union Minister Virbhadra Singh has resigned from the Cabinet. His resignation has been by the accepted by the Prime Minister and forwarded to the President.
His charge as the the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has been given to Vilasrao Deshmukh, who will also continue as Minister for Science and Technology.
A Himachal Pradesh court had framed charges of corruption against Mr Singh and his wife, former MP Pratibha Singh yesterday.
Mr Singh has denied the charges, but he said he has quit as he did not want to embarrass his party, Prime Minister and government. "No one asked me to quit, this is my moral duty, as I did not want to embarrass my party, PM or government," he said.
He has trained his guns straight at the BJP's PK Dhumal, the present Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, accusing him of concocting cases against him every time he has been in power. "This is the second charge concocted against me by a Prem Kumar Dhumal government, but I didn't do the same when I became CM," he said.
Mr Singh has served five times as the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, which is headed for assembly elections again later this year.
Janardhan Dwivedi, the Congress spokesperson defended Mr Singh saying he had taken moral responsibility. " The chargesheet has been filed but it does not mean he is guilty," he said.
The charges against Mr Singh are based on an audio CD that purportedly has Mr Singh's voice on it. The case dates back to 1989, when he was chief minister of Himachal Pradesh. He was allegedly taped on the phone in a conversation with his wife and a senior bureaucrat, Mohinder Lal, who was then Director of Industries in the state. They allegedly discussed kickbacks from industrialists who wanted to set up shop in Himachal Pradesh. Mr Lal has died.
The CD was made public in 2007 by Mr Singh's political rival, Vijay Singh Mankotia.
The case against him emerges as the Congress is blanketed by a series of corruption charges against senior leaders. Three former chief ministers of Maharashtra, for example, are being questioned for their alleged role in Mumbai's Adarsh Society scam - apartments in the high-rise, meant for war widows and veterans, were allocated to relatives of politicians and bureaucrats.