Abhishek Manu Singhvi resigns as Congress spokesman over video row

NEW DELHI Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:01am IST

Abhishek Singhvi, a leader of India's ruling Congress party, speaks to the media at his residence in New Delhi in this September 2, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Abhishek Singhvi, a leader of India's ruling Congress party, speaks to the media at his residence in New Delhi in this September 2, 2011 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the spokesman of the Congress party, resigned on Monday after a video purportedly showing him having sex with a woman was distributed on YouTube and other websites, in a fresh embarrassment for the government.

The former spokesman and prominent lawyer, Singhvi, said the video was fake and strongly denied news reports that he had offered to help the woman become a judge. The reported allegations could not be verified by Reuters.

Singhvi, who has been a rising star in the party, also resigned from a powerful parliamentary law committee he headed.

His resignation came after a CD recording was circulated on the Internet. He had earlier obtained a court order to prevent Indian print and television media from distributing it.

"I have done this only to prevent even the slightest possible parliamentary disruption regarding the purported CDs being circulated about me," he said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"Specifically, some sections of the print and visual media are spreading a falsehood simply by repetition and hearsay that there is reference in the CD to the promise of any post. No one has heard any such reference in the CD. There is none simply because it does not exist. It is pure imagination, wishful thinking and sensationalism," Singhvi said in his statement.

The incident is likely to provoke an uproar in parliament, which reconvenes on Tuesday to debate the 2012/13 budget and other bills. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said it planned to question Singhvi's resignation in parliament.

"Singhvi must explain in parliament the reason for his resignation as chairman of the panel on law and justice," Arun Jaitley, who leads the opposition in the upper house, told reporters.

Hit by a series of corruption scandals and weakened by querulous coalition partners, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress party-led government has struggled to pass major legislation in the past few years.

(Reporting by Satarupa Bhattacharjya and Annie Banerji; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel, Editing by John Chalmers)

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