Hectic efforts to persuade Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev
New Delhi, Jun 3: Hectic back-channel efforts were on till late night on Jun 2 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 on Jun 3 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 on Jun 2 announced that he will join Ramdev's protest on Jun 5 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 Jun 3 meeting with Ramdev.

On the questions which were raised by Ramdev, the government has prepared a structured response and it will be presented to Ramdev.


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