Facing criticism over the government's handling of the anti-corruption campaigns of the civil society, PM Manmohan Singh took "full responsibility" of all the decisions taken to deal with Team Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev.
"As the head of the government, I take full responsibility of all the decisions taken for dealing with the civil society," sources quoted Singh as having told the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Friday.
During the 100-minute free-wheeling discussion, member after member questioned the government, in presence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, on its decisions to engage with "four or five self-appointed representatives" of the civil society.
This included the decision to send four senior ministers to the airport to welcome Ramdev and the subsequent "failed" negotiations with him.
At one point, Pranab Mukherjee, known for his short temper, is said to have lost his cool when outspoken party general secretary Digvijaya Singh asked him who had initiated the idea of forming a joint drafting committee on the lokpal bill.
Beni Prasad Verma was also critical of the steps taken to accommodate the demands of the "so-called civil society".
"At times, the government went out of its way…There was no need for that," he said.
There were some lighter moments as well. Party treasurer Motilal Vora's intervention that "who are these four or five people" drew laughter from the members.
But the members were unanimous in claiming that the civil society was a "mask for the Sangh Parivar", which is out to destabilise the government. They urged the government not to succumb to pressure from such groups anymore.
It is learnt that Gandhi had instructed the CWC members not to give "blow-by-blow" account of the meeting to the media.
The only person authorised to speak to the media was party's media department chief Janardan Dwivedi.