The Congress has turned down an invitation from Team Anna to participate in a public debate on the lokpal bill at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
The party's view is that it would be "premature" to participate in any such debate when the parliamentary standing committee had already tabled its report and the government will finalise the draft and move the lokpal bill in Parliament.
"We expect a full discussion in Parliament, following which we expect the bill will be passed," Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in his December 8 letter to Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal.
The letter was released moments after social activist Anna Hazare slammed the Congress for running away from the public debate.
NGO India Against Corruption had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on December 5, requesting her to depute a party representative to participate in the debate.
"It would be difficult for the Congress party to express its views before examining the final draft of the bill. Therefore, in our view, a debate at this stage outside Parliament may be premature," Dwivedi said.
Hazare and his team have trashed the recommendations of the parliamentary committee, questioning the "sanctity" of the report which has been opposed by 17 of its 30 members.
On his part, standing committee chairman Abhishek Singhvi accused Team Anna of "practicing an extreme form of intolerance". "Those who don't agree 100% with their view must be condemned with personal attack and vilification. This is negation of democracy." The BJP will be represented by Arun Jaitley at the debate.