New Delhi : On seeing Rahul Gandhi seated in the eighth row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke away from the escort that was taking President Pranab Mukherjee to the dais on Monday and held his hand warmly in the first-ever bonhomie between the two rivals who attacked each other day in and day out during the poll campaign.
The Congress vice-president, who got up on seeing Modi stop for him, was all smiles. Minutes before, Rahul had arrived in the Central Hall of Parliament with Congress President Sonia Gandhi. While she walked to the front to be seated between Lal Krishna Advani and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Rahul took the seat along with party treasurer Motilal Vora.
Former union minister Jairam Ramesh, who was seated next to Vora, could be seen giving notes to Rahul almost every five minutes on the President’s address and at times Rahul had a word or two with him even as Vora, who was sitting in between them, kept grimacing.
Sonia Gandhi occupied her seat after greeting Advani and Deve Gowda, kept quiet for some time but she could be seen later chatting intermittently with the BJP patriarch. She thumped the desks twice when the President talked of the new government’s commitment to provide 33 per cent reservation to women or about zero tolerance to violence against women.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sitting on the next desk with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, too thumped the desk and so did Advani.
The loudest and the longest thumping of desks came when Mukherjee talked of the government’s commitment to ensure the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the land of their ancestors.