Forty-eight hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to appear before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, the Opposition National Democratic Alliance upped the ante by demanding he either constitute a joint parliamentary committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam or resign.
Addressing a sparsely attended rally at Ram Lila ground here, BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari, NDA convener Sharad Yadav and others said the PM's offer to appear before the PAC was not enough.
Jaitley, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, said: "The PM thinks he should be above suspicion. If you want to be above it, you should agree to a JPC and answer questions… If you can't, step down from your post taking moral responsibility."
The Congress rejected the demand for the PM's resignation, saying it was for the people to decide.
Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said his party had acted against those accused of "misconduct and corruption" even without an inquiry.
He pointed out the case of K Natwar Singh (food for oil scandal), Shashi Tharoor (IPL scam) and Ashok Chavan (Adarsh housing scandal).
The rally, attended by leaders of NDA constituents BJP, Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal and Janata Dal (United), was the first of several planned across the country.
Though billed as a mega-rally, the BJP failed to mobilise large crowds, which police estimated at 10,000-15,000.
Consequently, traffic flow did not get disrupted. Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who had threatened to boycott the rally over his estranged nephew Raj Thackeray's visit to the Maharashtra BJP headquarters in Mumbai, sent Anant Geete as his representative.
Advani and Swaraj, who spoke to the senior Thackeray over phone, reportedly had to use all their persuasive skills to placate him.
Thematically, all the speeches were the same, though some speakers also referred to scams that had plagued the Commonwealth Games and Adarsh housing society and the government's decision to appoint PJ Thomas as chief vigilance commissioner despite Swaraj's objections on the grounds that he himself was facing a criminal investigation.
Advani, who said 2010 would be remembered as the "year of stinking scams", made a "final appeal" to the PM to accept a JPC, failing which, he warned, he would have to bear the brunt of NDA attacks.
Swaraj, who enjoys a good personal equation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said she had just one question for the PM and Sonia: "Why not a JPC probe?" Geete and Akali leader Ratan Singh Ajnala also addressed the meet and attacked the PM.