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Coalgate: Congress stands solidly behind Manmohan

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12 March 2015

Congress leaders on Thursday took out rallies and stopped trains at several places across Uttar Pradesh to protest against the court summons issued against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a coal scam case.
Coalgate: Congress stands solidly behind Manmohan
Congress workers, lead by Rita Bahuguna Joshi, on Thursday stopped the Howrah-Amritsar Express at Lucknow's Charbagh railway station for over an hour.

Earlier, the entire top Congress leadership including Sonia Gandhi on Thursday took to the streets to express solidarity with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been summoned as accused in a coal scam case, with the party President calling it "outrageous.

The Congress leaders accused the government of maintaining a "studied silence" after the Central Bureau of Investigation had told the court that there was no criminality involved in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block to Birla Group firm Hindalco in Odisha in 2005, when Singh personally held the coal portfolio.

Gandhi declared that they would fight the case with all legal means at their command "I was outraged at the news that summons had been served to Manmohan Singh," she said.

She said the former prime minister was known throughout the world for his integrity and probity.

"We are here to offer our unstinted support, our solidarity.  The Congress party is fully behind him. We shall fight this legally and with all our means at our command. We are sure, we are convinced that he will be vindicated," she told reporters at Singh's residence.

Singh, accompanied by his wife, received the leaders on the porch of his residence.

Both Manmohan and Sonia evaded questions by the media as to how a political march by party leaders to his residence would help his case.

Speaking to reporters, ex-finance minister Chidambaram said he was confident that the summons against his former Prime Minister will stand withdrawn after some time.

"It is very difficult in view of the tragic silence of the BJP. The CBI is the executive arm of the government. The CBI has said that there is no change, no ground to take criminal action. But the government must speak up and say we stand by the CBI's report.

"If the government believes in the independence of CBI and if CBI has already said that there is no criminal case, government must say they stand by the CBI's report. Why is the government reluctant to do that," the senior Congress leader said.

Anand Sharma expressed confidence that the truth would emerge as Singh was above "shadow of suspicion".

He added, the former Prime Minister's transparency, objectivity and honesty was above question." He is respected in India and across the world. We fully believe that whatever facts have been presented in front of him, his decisions have been transparent, correct and the truth would emerge," he said.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress leaders led by Sonia Gandhi gave Singh an assurance that the entire party was behind him and he should not feel that he was alone.

Sashi Tharoor, one of the almost handful of Congressmen to have retained their Lok Sabha seats, said, ''We are there to show the former PM our support and respect. We are there to show him that we stand with him. We respect the judicial process, but at the same time we appreciate that this gentleman deserves all gratitude the nation can offer him.''

Chairman of the Rajya Sabha P J Kurien was at the party headquarters to express solidarity with the former Prime Minister but did not participate in the march.

This is the first time that the top Congress brass has taken to the streets after the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in May last year.

Congress vice-president and heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi, who has taken leave of absence on the eve of the crucial Budget session of parliament, did not comment.





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