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Venod Sharma is a leader of Indian National Congress party from Haryana. He was a Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution at in the Narasimha Rao cabinet (inducted 1995[1]). A noted Gandhi loyalist, he rose in political circles to become one of the most powerful men in state of Haryana[2].

Note that the name Venod is commonly spelled "Vinod", but "Venod" is the accepted spelling.

Manu Sharma and the Jessica Lal Murder

Venod Sharma is also the father of Manu Sharma, who has been convicted of murdering Jessica Lal in the presence of several witnesses. Initially, a trial court in Delhi had thrown out the case since many of the witnesses, who had initially claimed to having seen him firing the gun, retracted their statements. Following a huge media uproar, the case was taken up by the Delhi High Court and Manu was found guilty. The case is currently sub judice in the Supreme Court.

After the murder, Venod Sharma was denied a Member of Parliament candidacy from the Congress Party for the Lok Sabha i.e., for the central government. However, he managed a ticket for the legislative assembly (at the State level) and won as MLA. Subsequently he had become the minister for Power in the state of Haryana.

However, events during Manu Sharma's trial for murder appears to have undermined Venod Sharma's clout. During the initial trial all the eye-witnesses turned hostile, and retracted their earlier statements. They were believed to have been pressurized and paid off, largely based on Venod Sharma's political clout. This led to increasing pressure in the public and in the media [3]. There was widespread criticism of the Delhi Police for going after others like the restaurateur Bina Ramani and allowing the main accused, Manu Sharma, to go scot-free.

The news portal Tehelka carried out a sting operation following Manu Sharma's release. This uncovered details of the witness coercion process, and alleged that money was being paid directly from Venod Sharmas offices to some of the witnesses. [4]. Venod Sharma was directly mentioned by several people, such as this person who was a friend of the (now expired) eye-witness Karan Rajput:

Surendra: I saw him receiving money at Okhla.
Question: Where at Okhla?
Surendra: From Sharma’s place. In front of Okhla depot there is a building. [Venod] Sharma owns entire building. We used to collect money from there itself.
Question: How much money?
Surendra: Whatever we needed.
Question: Whatever you say?
Surendra: Whatever we demand. We used to get 20-25 thousand every month just like that. His number is in mamu’s ( Karan Rajput) diary.

After his name was directly linked with the cover-up, parties such as the India Lok Dal clamoured for Venod Sharma's resignation, and the public outcry was at an inopportune time, given forthcoming elections in the neighbouring Punjab and other states.

Finally, Venod Sharma submitted his resignation letter to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and All-India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi on Friday 10 October 2006.

References

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