Clad in a golden silk sari, with matching high-heel sandals, veteran film actor Rekha became the cynosure of all eyes in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, as she was sworn in as a member of the upper house.
The 57-year-old received a warm welcome, with several members warmly greeting her and talking to her.
Nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the president, she was greeted in the house with thumping of desks. Chairman M. Hamid Ansari welcomed her, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley greeted her after she signed the members' register.
Rekha's seat is in a row designated for nominated members. Senior journalist and nominated member H. K. Dua was seen explaining proceedings to her, and she was also seen interacting with noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, who is seated in her row.
Her contemporary, actor Jaya Bachchan, was, meanwhile, seated in her new place, in a different row. There were reports claiming that she got her seat shifted, to avoid being in the camera frame with Rekha. Jaya Bachchan was earlier seated on seat 91, while Rekha was allotted seat 99, which was right behind her.
Jaya Bachchan, who is a Rajya Sabha member elected from Uttar Pradesh on the Samajwadi Party ticket, however, said she wanted to change her seat because of the demise of party colleague Brij Bhushan Tiwari, who used to sit next to her.
A leading actress of the Hindi film industry in the 1970s and 1980s, Rekha took the pledge in English. She sat in the house halfway through question hour, and then made a quiet exit.
Rekha was nominated to the upper house along with industrialist Anu Aga and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. While Aga was sworn in on Sunday during a special sitting of the Parliament, marking its 60 years, Tendulkar is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday, according to sources.
Welcoming Rekha to the Parliament, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said: “Rekha is a great artist; we welcome her into our fraternity.”
Former Samajwadi Party leader and Bachchan's family friend Amar Singh on Tuesday refused to comment on reports of Jaya Bachchan's demand to change her seat.
“I don't want to comment on why Jaya Bachchan changed her seat. Amitabh Bachchan is my friend and I have seen Rekha in his films. I congratulated her when I met her today. I don't have any personal equation with her though,” he told reporters.