United colours of LS

Poll venom replaced by pleasantries in the opening session

M Hamdullah Sayeed looked on from his seat on the last but one row, as Ram Sundar Das took oath as a member of the Lok Sabha (LS) amid loud desk-thumping by several MPs. Das, 88, and Sayeed, 26, together mark the ‘generation gap’ in the 15th LS. One is the oldest among the 543 MPs, while the other is the youngest.
“Old or young, we all are here to speak up for the people who have voted for us and sent us to the Parliament as their representatives,” Das, the Janata Dal (United) MP from Hajipur in Bihar, told journalists as he came out after taking oath.
Sayeed, a Congress MP from Lakshadweep, took oath later and almost echoed Das: “It feels good to be the youngest member of the LS, but what is more important to me is the responsibility that the people of my constituency have entrusted me with. I would try my best to live up to their expectations.”
The bitterness that marked the just-concluded battle of ballots seemed to have vanished into thin air as the session began at 11.00 am. Just before the Protem Speaker Manik Rao Gavit took the seat, senior BJP MP Sushma Swaraj was seen exchanging pleasantries with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister and Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee. The BJP’s leader in the LS, L K Advani, too greeted Singh and Mukherjee. The Congress Parliamentary Party chief Sonia Gandhi came in a bit later.
Mukherjee and Advani first took the oath. They were followed by the Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State. The MPs of different States and Union Territories then followed.
Opposition bench
The front-row of the opposition benches looked more gorgeous than it had been in the previous House. BJP president Rajnath Singh and senior leaders Jashwant Singh, Ananth Kumar and off course Swaraj were there to give company to Advani, who had shared the front row only with V K Malhotra and Kumar in the absence of the other leaders in the last House.
Manmohan, Pranab, Sonia and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar were seated on the front row of the treasury benches. Home Minister P Chidambaram and Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath were also on the front row.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and the veteran CPM member Basudev Acharia sitting in together occupied the front row. Also on the front-row was the NC MP Farooq Abdullah.

Forgetful MPs

Several MPs forgot to sign the documents after taking oath and were about to return to their seats, when the former J&K Chief Minister stopped them and made them return to the table to put signatures on the documents. He, however, was happy that his son-in-law Sachin Pilot, a Congress MP, did not commit the same mistake.
Rahul Gandhi, flanked by other young MPs of the Congress, sat on the last row, occasionally chatting with Deepender Singh Hooda, Jitin Prasada and Jyotiraditya Scindia. He was also engrossed in a discussion with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.

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