Congress president Sonia Gandhi led a march of party leaders to Manmohan Singh's residence in a show of solidarity with the former prime minister on Thursday, a day after a special court summoned him in the coal scam case.
"Dr Manmohan Singh is known not only in this country but through out the world as a person of integrity and probity. We are here to offer our unstinted support and solidarity. The Congress is fully behind him. We will fight this legally and with all means at our command," the Congress president told reporters outside Singh's residence.
"We are convinced that he will be vindicated," she added.
Senior party leaders Anand Sharma, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Mallikarjun Kharge, among others, took part in the march up to Singh's residence at 3, Motilal Nehru Marg, to express solidarity with him after Congress Working Committee members, MPs and senior leaders met at the party headquarters at 24, Akbar Road.
Senior party leaders Anand Sharma, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Mallikarjun Kharge, among others, were present at the meeting.
Gandhi's first ever march, covering a distance of around 1 km, was aimed at sending a strong message not to only to the opponents but also to party colleagues that the she is solidly behind the former PM in this hour of crisis.
The Congress party came out strongly in his defence, asserting his "integrity, fairness, impartiality and adherence to transparency remains unquestionable". The party also charged the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with making "cheap political capital out of it to divert the people's attention from the black law" on land acquisition.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said: "The government must speak up and say we stand by the CBI's report. Why is it reluctant to say that? The CBI has twice said that there is no ground or charge to take criminal action."
Party MP Shashi Tharoor said they want to show the former PM "our support and respect. We are there to show him that we stand with him".
Singh later said he was grateful to top Congress leaders for rallying behind him.
Though dubbed symbolic, the Congress move was in stark contrast to its stand on PV Narasimha Rao, who was left to fend for himself.
Singh became the second former prime minister after Rao to be summoned by a trial court as an accused. Rao was accused in St Kitts and JMM bribery cases.
Special judge Bharat Parashar had on Wednesday summoned the 82-year-old former PM, former coal secretary PC Parakh and 4 others saying "some acts of their omission and commission, though not all, show their complicity in the conspiracy".
On his part, Singh said he would establish his total innocence in any fair trial.
"I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny... I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all facts and prove my total innocence," Singh said, adding that as the prime minister he had issued a statement justifying the government move.
Asked about the court order, he said: "Of course, I am upset but this is part of life".
Singh had earlier given his statement to the CBI on the issue.
The BJP hit back, saying Singh was paying for the "sins" of the Congress. The ruling party also said that court summons to the former PM was a "blot" on the grand old party.
Video:Sonia Gandhi backs Manmohan