On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did something unusual; he walked up to the Opposition benches in the Lok Sabha and greeted everyone with folded hands before the session started. It was a move calculated to ‘ease doing business’ in Parliament.

Six crucial Bills, including those on land acquisition, coal, insurance and mining, are lined up for passage during the Budget Session. The Centre is keen on getting the Bills passed, particularly since ordinances promulgated for some of them are due to expire before the end of the first part of the Budget session, on March 20.

The session is taking place in the wake of the BJP’s rout in the Delhi Assembly polls, and in the backdrop of party president Amit Shah’s game-plan going awry in Bihar, where Modi bête noire Nitish Kumar is back in the Chief Ministerial saddle.

Different interpretation

Modi’s effort at Atal Bihari Vajpayee-like statesmanship is being interpreted in two ways. His supporters feel the Prime Minister is finally ‘loosening’ up with the Opposition, citing his recent visit to Uttar Pradesh to attend a wedding function alongside Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad.

His detractors, however, interpret this is as nothing more than the ‘humbling effect’ of the recent Delhi polls and the setback in Bihar. In Delhi, the BJP was reduced to three seats in the 70-member Assembly polls, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) grabbed 67 seats.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister’s effort to reach out to the Opposition is a welcome change from the Winter Session, when he was often seen sitting poker-faced even as the Opposition created a ruckus, demanding a statement from him on the hate speeches made by his partymen around the ‘ Ghar wapsi ’ and ‘Love Jihad’ controversies.

On Monday, the Opposition benches, too, looked emboldened. Members, cutting across parties, were seen congratulating and cheering AAP’s Punjab MP Bhagwant Mann. The Trinamool Congress was belligerent after its impressive performance in the Bengal by-polls, making it a point to shout “BJP came third”, when its new MP, Mamatabala Thakur (Bongaon), took oath.