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Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, party deputy Rahul Gandhi kept their date with Rashtrapati Bhavan, but unconfirmed reports said they both avoided conversation with new Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the post-swearing-in high tea, where many other guests freely interacted with each other.
Sonia arrived at the forecourt almost 15 minutes before the swearing-in ceremony started, with son Rahul behind her.
Modi, as per the protocol, came later, minutes before President Pranab Mukherjee walked into the forecourt.
Sonia spoke to NDA patriarch Lal Krishna Advani for a few minutes while Rahul exchanged pleasantries with some VVIP guests who were sitting in the front rows near the main podium. Sonia, too, spoke to some guests briefly.
After the programme was over, Sonia and Rahul joined the high tea at the South Court with the new cabinet members, heads of the state and some other VVIPs. A senior leader who met Gandhi told HT, “She was not anywhere near Modi. She was busy meeting many other leaders.”
A Congress leader, who was sitting close to Sonia, told HT, “She was in her designated place. There was no scope of much interaction.”
On May 20, Sonia had written a letter to Modi congratulating him for the election victory.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram came for the function and even hugged TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Former minister Jairam Ramesh too went around greeting BJP leaders. Modi’s trusted aide Amit Shah got a seat in the coveted front row.