Govt engages Ramdev in back-channel talks

New Delhi: Hectic back-channel efforts were initiated on Thursday 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.

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.

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.