Bonhomie marks first day of Budget Session in Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) Bonhomie reigned in RajyaSabha on the first day of the Budget Session today as theHouse met almost two months after the acrimonious WinterSession that saw the opposition and the UPA at loggerheadsover the demand for JPC probe into the 2G spectrum issue.

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

Before the House commenced, Defence Minister A KAntony was seen walking up to the opposition benches andmeeting the opposition leaders from different parties.

Similarly Minister of State for Parliamentary AffairsAshwini Kumar, who attended the House for the first time aftertaking oath as a Union Minister last month, was greeted warmlyby Ahluwalia when the former went to him.

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

The last session that ended on December 13 was washedout as the opposition pressed for formation of JointParliamentary Committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam and thegovernment refused to concede the demand.

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

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

The House also paid tributes to five former RajyaSabha members K Karunakaran, Surendra Mohan, MohammedKhaleelur Rahman and IT Lohani who passed away recently.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari also condoled thedeath of noted musician Pandit Bhimsen Joshi saying thecountry has lost "one of its most respected and versatilemusicians" and a "towering genius".

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