Campaign bitterness forgotten, bonhomie in Rajya Sabha


Forgetting the bitter acrimony during the Lok Sabha poll campaign, members from all political parties exchanged greetings.

Before taking his seat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went straight to senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who has become the Leader of Opposition, in an apparent gesture to seek the opposition parties' support for the smooth conduct of the House.

After a warm handshake with Jaitley, who has taken the place of Jaswant Singh following his election to the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister exchanged pleasantries with senior leaders before taking his seat.

The Upper House missed several BJP veterans like Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, all of whom have been elected to the Lok Sabha.

The Prime Minister, who will be the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, later introduced his Council of Ministers amid thumping of desks. Loud applause was heard when he introduced 28-year old Agatha Sangma, the youngest Minister in the Council.

With almost the entire team of the Prime Minister present in the House, there was virtually a crisis of seats on the treasury benches and many of them had to squeeze in.

Some ministers, including Trinamool's Mamata Banerjee and DMK's M K Azhagiri and Dayanidhi Maran occupied the last row.

Sitaram Yechury, whose CPI(M) crossed swords with the Congress-led UPA during the elections, went to the Prime Minister to exchange greetings.

After a copy of the President's address to the joint session of Parliament was laid on the table, the House condoled the deaths of three former members.

95-year Shankarrao Narayanrao Deshmukh, who died in January this year, represented Maharashtra in the Upper House from 1984 to 1990.

Four-time member Tirath Ram Amla (94), who represented Jammu and Kashmir in the House, too died in January this year.

Savita Behen (90), who represented Delhi in the Rajya Sabha from 1972 to 1978, had worked for the welfare of women. The noted social worker died in March this year.

Chairman Hamid Ansari also condoled the death of 125 people in the killer cyclone 'Aila' in West Bengal.

Before the House adjourned for the day, Home Minister P Chidambaram laid copies of a Presidential proclamation imposing Central rule in Meghalaya on March 19 and another revoking it on May 13.

A popular government has since been installed in Meghalaya which was brought under President's rule following a political crisis in the North Eastern state.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy laid a copy of the Meghalaya vote on account ordinance promulgated by the President on March 31.

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