The atmosphere was surcharged, the galleries were full and the Lok Sabha was packed even before the clock struck 11 on Monday morning to signal the commencement of the special session that will decide the fate of the Manmohan Sigh government.
Arrival of Speaker Somnath Chatterjee
generated a buzz since there had been intense speculation as to whether he would preside over the House or step down from the high office as demanded by the CPI(M). It was obvious that he was not resigning, certainly at this point.
Having flashed a V-sign and a thumbs-up on his arrival at Parliament House about an hour earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his trademark sky-blue turban, took the first seat on the treasury benches with his seniormost cabinet colleague and leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee seated next to him.
Sonia Gandhi, wearing an off-white sari, was seated next to Mukherjee. On entering the chamber, she greeted her party members.
Across the floor, sat the Leader of the Opposition LK Advani clad in a white kurta topped by a black waistcoat, with the sheaf of papers.
The wife and daughter of Chatterjee watched the proceedings from the Speaker's gallery. The public galleries were full.
It appeared that everyone was keyed up for the debate but they had to wait for more than 15 minutes as seven new members took oath and obituary references were made to former members who had died since the last session as also to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.