In House, Cong shares front row with partners and friends

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 6 2009, 04:51am hrs
Displaying large-heartedness, the Congress leadership has spared half of the 10 front seats in the UPA quota for its partners and friends.

The beneficiaries are agriculture minister Sharad Pawar (NCP), railways minister Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool), TR Baalu (DMK), former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (JD-S) and Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD).

Congress deputy leader Sis Ram Ola has made it to a front bench, perhaps as a consolation prize after his exclusion from the ministry. The Congress line-up is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister and Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, home minister P Chidambaram and, of course, Ola.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav finds himself in the company of BSP floor leader Dara Singh Chauhan. CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia shares a front bench with JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav.

The BJP frontline is already in place it is Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani, deputy leader Sushma Swaraj, party chief Rajnath Singh, former president Murli Manohar Joshi and former minister Jaswant Singh.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi stays where he was in the eighth row along with Sandeep Dikshit, Deepender Hooda and ministers of state Arun Yadav, Prateek Patil, RPN Singh, Shashi Tharoor, Vincent Pala, Pradeep Jain and Agatha Sangma. The Congress has bunched all its first-term female members, including Deepa Dasmunsi, Jyoti Mirdha, Anu Tandon and Shruti Chaudhry, together and allotted them the 10th row of the second block.

Two former Karnataka chief ministers, N Dharam Singh (Congress) and HD Kumaraswamy (JD-S) are in the sixth row. Another former chief minister Kalyan Singh is in the fourth row.