New Delhi, Feb 22: Despite differences between the government and the Opposition on a number of issues, the all-party meeting called today by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu ahead of the Budget session beginning tomorrow had its own share of lighter moments and bonhomie.
When leaders from all parties gathered for the luncheon meeting, Rajya Sabha MP from Trinamool Congress Derek O' Brien asked Naidu about India's score against South Africa in Pool B World Cup match in Melbourne. Naidu was prompt with the answer telling him that it is 261 for three wickets for India in 44 overs.
That was in the noon. India posted a commendable 307 for seven against title contenders South Africa in the second group league encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup and went on to win the match by 130 runs.
Extending niceties, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister also congratulated senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad for his re-election as Rajya Sabha member from Jammu and Kashmir. One of the BJP leaders interjected saying that BJP's loss is Congress' gain. Naidu, however, quickly added that "we should take it as gain for the country."
Azad is Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Government, which is short on numbers in Rajya Sabha, faces a tough task in carrying out its legislative business in this session particularly over passing the six bills to replace ordinances.
A day before the Budget session is to commence, the government has adopted a conciliatory approach. Before the all-party meet, Naidu, in an unusual gesture, drove to Congress President Sonia Gandhi's residence to meet her to seek cooperation of the largest opposition party in carrying out the legislative business.
"I called on Congress President and requested her to extend support and cooperation and to see to it that Parliament business is carried out smoothly and the bills are passed.
"I also told her that there could be differences on some issues between the government and the Opposition. Opposition have a right to differ.... It was a very cordial meeting and she was very supportive," Naidu said.
JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and INLD leader Dushyant Chautala left the meeting mid-way to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar as Bihar Chief Minister.