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Bonhomie marks first day of Budget Session in Rajya Sabha
February, 21st 2011

Bonhomie reigned in Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Budget Session today as the House met almost two months after the acrimonious Winter Session that saw the opposition and the UPA at loggerheads over the demand for JPC probe into the 2G spectrum issue.

While Leader of the House Prime Minister Manmohan greeted the Opposition members warmly with folded hands, Deputy Leader of the House S S Ahluwalia walked up to treasury benches and exchanged pleasantries with Singh.

Before the House commenced, Defence Minister A K Antony was seen walking up to the opposition benches and meeting the opposition leaders from different parties.

Similarly Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ashwini Kumar, who attended the House for the first time after taking oath as a Union Minister last month, was greeted warmly by Ahluwalia when the former went to him.

President Pratibha Patil's address to the joint siiting of Parliament was tabled in the House.

The last session that ended on December 13 was washed out as the opposition pressed for formation of Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam and the government refused to concede the demand.

The Budget Session has commenced amid clear signals that the government has agreed to constitute such a panel now.

The Prime Minister introduced the new ministers to the House including those who were elevated or whose portfolios were changed. They included Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Sriprakash Jaiswal , Ashwini Kumar, Praful Patel , K C Venugopal and Beni Prasad Verma.

The House also paid tributes to five former Rajya Sabha members K Karunakaran, Surendra Mohan, Mohammed Khaleelur Rahman and IT Lohani who passed away recently.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari also condoled the death of noted musician Pandit Bhimsen Joshi saying the country has lost "one of its most respected and versatile musicians" and a "towering genius".

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