A gun salute being given at the funeral of former President APJ Abdul Kalam in Rameswaram on Thursday. (PTI)
Rameswaram, July 30: Rivals travelled together to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's funeral today, sat next to each other and chatted animatedly, putting aside recent animosities.
The scenes of camaraderie and the leaders behaving like obedient schoolboys jogged memories of Kalam as a teacher.
Kerala CPM veteran V. Achuthanandan had flown in with Congress rival and chief minister Oommen Chandy. Rahul Gandhi bent down to say hello to Achuthanandan. Seeing Rahul, Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa stood up to greet the Congress vice-president.
Even the otherwise fussy Vijayakanth sat next to Anbumani Ramadoss, forgetting the bitterness of their short-lived alliance for last year's general elections.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and the BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain prayed together, appearing more like siblings than rivals.
When Narendra Modi arrived, MDMK leader Vaiko got up to offer his seat but the Prime Minister walked up to A.P.J.M. Maraikayar, Kalam's only surviving sibling, touching the 99-year-old's feet.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa was unwell and had sent her ministers. Only Union minister Venkaiah Naidu struck a discordant note, recalling "how distressed Kalam had been about repeated disruptions of Parliament" in a swipe at the Opposition.