Signs of bonhomie between political rivals Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi were not lost in the crowded Central Hall of the Parliament.
President Pranab Mukherjee arrives with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to address the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT Photo)
Rahul greeted the PM who returned the gesture by holding the young leader’s hand, causing a ripple among MPs seated next to him.
The incident occurred when Modi and other functionaries were accompanying President Pranab Mukherjee while leaving the hall after the President’s address to the first joint sitting of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley during President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
When they reached the eighth row, where Rahul was sitting, he greeted the President with folded hands. Modi was seen reaching out to him and grabbing his hand. Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh and Congress treasurer Motilal Vohra, seated next to Rahul, were seen smiling during this brief exchange. Many leaders rushed to Rahul later and were seen asking him whether there was an exchange of words as well.
The lead-up to the Lok Sabha polls saw many acrimonious exchanges between Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi and BJP’s Narendra Modi.
Rahul was referred to as ‘shehzada’ (prince) by Modi, who in turn called the BJP leader ‘feku’ (one who makes false claims).
This wasn’t the only exchange that garnered eyeballs.
Another pair of bitter political rivals, Sonia Gandhi and LK Advani, were seen sitting next to one another and both were engaged in conversation for quite a while. Former PM Manmohan Singh had finance minister Arun Jaitley for company in the front row.
Before Modi joined them, both were seen exchanging pleasantries.
In fact, when Singh first entered very few MPs took note of his entry. However, the moment he took his seat Advani and other BJP leaders came to greet him.
Most of the front row was occupied by non-Congress leaders.
Sushma Swaraj, who entered early, went straight to sit next to Jaitley. But soon parliamentary staff escorted her to another seat. She had the company of Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda during President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
BJP’s SS Ahluwalia, a known face of the Upper House, who returned to the Parliament as a member of the Lok Sabha, had admirers in BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, Brajesh Pathak and several BJP, Congress leaders.
SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi — two veterans from Uttar Pradesh — were one of the first to reach. Seated next to each other, they seemed engaged in conversation.
Once the presidential address finished, Mulayam and Rahul greeted each other. In fact, Mulayam was also seen blessing Rahul.
Many other non-NDA leaders like Thambidurai (AIADMK) and Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD), were also seen reacting favourably to Mukherjee’s speech.