A day after V Narayanasamy, the minister in the prime minister's office, said Team Anna had the support of foreign forces, union minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi went a step further, accusing US-based groups of backing the movement led by social activist Anna Hazare.
Seeking to draw a link between US money and Team Anna, Ravi suggested Sunday it was more than a coincidence that Hazare and his two associates - Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal - were Magsaysay award winners.
"What I suspect is that Anna Hazare and his people are not all that innocent. Every one of them have got the Magsaysay award which has been funded by American foundations… I suspect there is a conspiracy to destabilise Indian politics," Ravi told reporters in Hyderabad as both sides stepped up the rhetoric.
New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund instituted the award after Philippines' seventh president Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay.
But Ravi stopped short of calling the social activists "US agents", saying - in response to a pointed question - that it was for the people and the media "to draw inference".
Ravi's remarks came a day after Narayanasamy alleged that Hazare was "surrounded by anti-national elements and people who have been supported by foreign forces".
Over three months ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed US-based groups for fuelling protests at the Kudankulam nuclear-power plant in Tamil Nadu.
"These NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States did not appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply," he had said.
The government followed up on the charge freezing foreign funding of NGOs leading the protests and ordered a CBI inquiry.
Ravi's attack on Sunday is part of the government's strategy to dent Team Anna's credibility.
While Ravi was holding fort in Hyderabad, his cabinet colleague, law minister Salman Khurshid, slammed Team Anna in Chennai, wondering why it did not seek an inquiry against itself when allegations of wrong-doing had been levelled against them too.
Kiran Bedi, on the other hand, likened PM Manmohan Singh to Dhritarashtra -- the blind king in the epic Mahabharata -- to attack him on the issue of corruption, prompting the government to accuse the activists of turning the fight into a "personal campaign".