It was at the intervention of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi that the government decided to release Anna Hazare from Tihar jail.
The decision came after a late evening meeting between Rahul and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the evolving situation as a result of Hazare's arrest.
The talks between the two were held soon after a meeting of the central election committee (CEC) for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections at 7, Race Course Road.
The sudden decision to release Hazare was reportedly prompted by two main factors: one, its apprehension that the popular upsurge against his arrest could pose a law and order problem that it had at the outset sought to avoid by arresting him before he undertook his fast and two, its effort to get Parliament to get to function once again after it was disrupted on the issue.
"The need of the hour is to avoid any confrontation and the unnecessary law and order problem," a senior party functionary said.
Sources said the PM, Rahul and other members of the panel named by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to look after day-to-day party affairs in her absence were part of the decision.
The 12 hours between Hazare's arrest and release showed the government trying to make the best of its rapidly shrinking options.
It could either have had to ride rough shod over the fallout of the seven days of judicial custody that Hazare had been put into or wriggle out of it by releasing him.
Also, it might have led to another washout of parliamentary session.
The government also realised that the arrest had completely shifted the focus from Hazare's campaign for his lokpal bill, to a citizen's right to protest, which united the entire opposition and isolated the government.
This is the second time in 24 hours that the Congress and the government have reworked their strategy on the Hazare issue at Rahul's instance.
After the flag hoisting function at the Congress headquarters on Monday, he had held extensive talks with the PM, some ministers and party leaders where he directed them to refrain from launching personal attacks against Hazare.