The government-Opposition confrontation over whether to have a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the telecom scam worsened on Monday.
In an attempt to undercut the Opposition's demand - and the NDA's proposed rally on December 22 - Manmohan Singh on Monday took the high moral ground and made an offer unprecedented by any prime minister. He said he was prepared to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament that is examining the CAG report on the issue.
"I have nothing to hide from the public and as a proof of my bonafides, I intend to write to the chairman of the PAC that I shall be happy to appear before the PAC if it chooses to ask me to do so," Singh told the party's plenary session.
"I sincerely believe that like Ceasar's wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion and it is for this reason that I am prepared to appear before the PAC even though there is no precedent to that effect," he said.
But the offer failed to cut ice with the BJP and the Left parties, which continued to insist on a JPC probe.
Earlier, Singh had virtually ruled out any such probe saying that in view of several ongoing investigations no purpose would be served by a JPC "except to delay the inquiry and politicise the matter".
The Opposition claimed only a JPC could seek answers to questions like the formation of the government and whether the system had been manipulated.
"The PM can't answer to an auditor or a committee examining the CAG report. He has to answer to Parliament or to a committee of Parliament," said BJP's Arun Jaitley.
"He can't answer to an auditor or a committee examining the auditor's report. He has to answer it either to Parliament or to a committee of Parliament," said Arun Jaitley, BJP's Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
CPI national secretary D Raja too questioned the Congress and the Prime Minister for making the JPC "such a contentious issue".
But Singh, in his speech, had maintained that the PAC has all the powers that can be given to a JPC.
The Congress reacted sharply to the opposition's "intemperate language" and rejection of the PM's "very open statement."
"This is the level of arrogance which I have never seen before. They do not trust their own senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who is heading the PAC. Who will they trust then?" asked Kapil Sibal.