New Delhi, June 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today walked up to Sonia Gandhi and greeted her on the 16th Lok Sabha’s first day and she reciprocated warmly.
Modi entered the House a little before 11am and, after greeting the MPs of the BJP and its allies, started walking towards the Opposition benches where Sonia was sitting in the front row.
The Prime Minister folded his hands before the Congress chief, who was sitting with the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and former Union minister Veerappa Moily. Sonia stood up and greeted the Prime Minister.
Rahul Gandhi was not around then. The Congress vice-president arrived after 11am and was seen sitting at the back with party MP Shashi Tharoor.
Rahul was said to have expressed reluctance to lead the Congress in the Lok Sabha, after which Kharge, former railway minister and Karnataka MP, was named the leader. Rahul used to sit at the back in the previous Lok Sabha too when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
Today, the House was adjourned after obituary references to Munde, who died in a road accident yesterday.
The process of administering oaths to the newly elected MPs, which was to have begun today, will now start tomorrow.
The House benches reflected the power shift. The Congress, which ruled for the past 10 years and won 206 seats in 2009, has only 44 MPs in the new Lok Sabha, and occupies little space on the Opposition benches.
On the treasury side, BJP veteran L.K. Advani was seen sitting beside Modi in the front row, followed by Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and Venkaiah Naidu.
Among the others occupying the front rows were Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Trinamul leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, the BJD’s Arjun Charan Sethi and the AIADMK’s M. Thambidurai. At one point, home minister Rajnath also walked around the front rows and greeted the members.
Usually the seats are seen to signify the pecking order of leaders but the position occupied by the members today was not official.
The seating arrangements will be finalised after the election of the Speaker on Friday.