Hectic efforts to persuade Ramdev

Hectic back-channel efforts were on till late tonight to persuade Baba Ramdev from going ahead with his indefinite hunger strike.

New Delhi: Hectic back-channel efforts
were on till late tonight 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 this evening at Ramlila Maidan where he is to sit on
fast two days later.

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 tomorrow after the second-round of talks.

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, Anna Hazare today 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 Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh`s residence where party chief Sonia Gandhi and
senior ministers, including Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A
K Antony and senior leader Ahmed Patel.

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 tomorrow`s meeting with Ramdev.

The party, which had disapproved senior ministers
rushing to the airport here yesterday for talks with the yoga
guru, left it to the government to deal with the issue in a
proper manner. Meanwhile, after coming out of the meeting Subodh Kant
Sahai told reporters, "If Baba Ramdev is serious about issues
raised by him and if the Government is serious about following
them, then there should be no difficulty in solving them."

On today`s meeting, he said, "Based on yesterday`s talks,
we met here to discuss about tomorrow`s meeting (with Baba

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the
government was not weak on the issue.

"Its incorrect to think that the government is weak. It
has to look into various issues and points raised by various
people," he said.


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