There was a distinct chill in the air in the Central Hall as President Pranab Mukherjee addressed a joint sitting of Parliament marking the beginning of Budget Session.
Lack of warmth between the government and the Opposition particularly Congress was visible as leaders communicated very little with each other, unlike in the past on such occasions.
Barring External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who walked up to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and both exchanged pleasantries, no interaction between Gandhi and any senior minister from the government was seen.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was seated in extreme left in the middle row along with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P J Kurien was the only member from Congress who was seen thumping the desk a number of times during the President’s address listing the government’s initiatives and roadmap for future.
Members from treasury benches thumped the desk vigorously when Mukherjee talked about disruption of Parliament while there was no response to it from the Opposition members.
Sonia Gandhi, who launched a blistering attack against the government yesterday, was seated with BJP patriarch L K Advani and former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Devegowda.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Earlier when Sonia arrived, she was greeted by Congress workers as well as S S Ahluwalia from BJP. L K Advani who came after some time was seen chatting briefly with Gandhi.
After the President’s address, Sonia Gandhi was seen in an animated discussion with Advani.
CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and other Opposition leaders came to the Congress President where they interacted briefly after the President left the venue.
Azad and Jaitley, who were seated together, were also seen in conversation.
Ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, a Rajya Sabha MP, was also also present.
There were, however, a number of empty seats in the special enclosure meant for officers and diplomats. Some members also came after the President’s speech had begun.