NEW DELHI: Hectic back-channel efforts were on till late Thursday night to persuade Baba Ramdev from going ahead with his indefinite hunger strike from Saturday as the Congress party and the government held consultations at the highest level to avert a Hazare-like protest on the streets.
Indications that both the sides were in serious discussions came when Ramdev called off a press conference scheduled Thursday evening at Ramlila Maidan where he is to sit on fast from Saturday.
The cancellation of the media briefing took place on the ground that there was “serious dialogue” on with the government and that he would update the media about the “conclusive” outcome Friday after the second round of talks.
Mr Acharya Balkrishnan, a close aide of Ramdev, said even if the government concedes to all the demands, the ‘satyagraha’ fast will take place for three days at least.
After reports that civil society was divided on the Lokpal Bill, Mr Anna Hazare Thursday announced that he will join Ramdev’s protest on Sunday but cautioned him that the government would “play fraud” by making false promises.
The Core Group of the Congress met at the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s residence where party chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi and senior ministers, including Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr P Chidambaram, Mr A K Antony and senior leader, Mr Ahmed Patel were present. This was followed by another high-level meeting of ministers and top officials when a draft of an agreement is understood to have been firmed up. This would be put on offer at Friday’s meeting with Ramdev.
The party, which had disapproved senior ministers rushing to the airport here Wednesday for talks with the yoga guru, left it to the government to deal with the issue in a proper manner.