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With reference to “Seating arrangement” (January 30), the government seems to have more than compensated Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, by “accommodating” him in a front row seat at the Central Hall of Parliament during the President’s address to the joint sitting of both Houses on Monday. It may be recalled that the Congress party had fumed over Gandhi being given a seat in the sixth row at the Republic Day parade held at Raj Path, New Delhi. However, it was quite interesting to learn that L K Advani, the founder member and former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was shown due respect with a front row seat along with former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seating on either side.
But another BJP veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, was not so lucky as he had to contend with a seat in the third row along with National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah. It is a different matter that both of them seems to have now lost their political utility at the national level.In any case, it could safely be assumed that Advani would have kept mum during the entire proceedings except reportedly greeting Sonia Gandhi ahead of occupying their seats. Perhaps the government’s conciliatory approach towards the Congress could also be gauged from the fact that Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, was seated next to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Interestingly, one striking feature of the joint sitting of both houses was that, at times, the members from the Treasury Benches could be seen thumping their desks even before the President had completed the sentence/s which eventually spoke high about the government’s proud achievements. One really wonders if they were aware from earlier of the “contents” of the Presidential speech in Parliament. Kumar Gupt, Panchkula
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