ANDHRA PRADESH

Camaraderie prevails on first day

Hyderabad Feb. 15. Bonhomie and camaraderie prevailed in the Assembly on the first day of its budget session today and in line with this spirit, the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, walked to the Opposition benches shortly before the commencement of the session and shook hands with the Leader of the Opposition, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, and other leaders, including N. Indrasena Reddy of the BJP, exchanging pleasantries with them.

A few ministers such as T. Devender Goud, K. Srihari and K. Vidyadhara Rao, who hold the portfolios of Home, Major Irrigation and Major Industries, followed suit, meeting even individual members on the other side and were reciprocated in as much measure. The Home Minister was seen sharing a joke with Rajasekhara Reddy, bursting out in his characteristic guffaw.

The friendly ties, however, were shortlived with the Opposition members, especially those from the Congress, protesting against some references/claims made by the Government in the Governor's Address that followed immediately.

The Governor, C. Rangarajan, accompanied by his protocol officers, including his Secretary, S. Anwar, was led by the Speaker, K. Pratibha Bharati, to a red-carpet welcome. He finished reading the 28-page address within 40 minutes. There were no protests or throwing of the Address's copies as witnessed in the past, save a few murmurs of protest.

C. Krishna Yadav, K. Pushpaleela and N. Sivaprasada Rao, who were all dropped from the Cabinet during the last reshuffle, sat at one place.

The Governor's address was marked by slight noise from Congress benches which occasionally increased over "objectionable'' parts while the Telugu Desam members countered them with claps as and when a positive achievement was mentioned.

The protest by the Congress increased when the Governor referred to the "quality power supply'' under power sector reforms and "priority'' given to farmers' interests.

However, the Telugu Desam benches replied with desk-thumping when reference was made to "successful implementation'' of nine-hour supply for agricultural pumpsets.

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