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Amit Shah makes his RS debut

Takes front-row aisle seat next to bench shared by Prime Minister and Finance Minister

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Amit Shah (R) stands next to Ram Vilas Paswan and other Rajya Sabha members on the first day of Winter Session of Parliament on Friday
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah began his parliamentary debut on Friday — the first day of Winter Session. Walking in just minutes before the proceedings began; he was greeted by treasury benches. The camaraderie conventionally attached to new entrants who are greeted across the aisle, however, was missing.

After walking in, he was led to occupy a seat in the front row on the treasury bench side. This seat was earlier held by M Venkaiah Naidu, who was elected Vice-President during the last Monsoon Session. He is now the chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Shah was elected to the Upper House in August. Members of the treasury benches, including Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and I&B Minister Smriti Irani, clapped to welcome Shah. BJP MPs stood up to welcome him as Shah greeted them.

After he took the seat, some members from treasury benches walked up to him to greet him. The bitterness that has cropped between the treasury benches and the Opposition was palpable as no one from Opposition benches greeted Shah.

A special seating arrangement has been made for Shah. He has been allotted the aisle seat right next to the two-seat bench shared by Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Normally, first time MPs are given back benches. The seating arrangement in the House also speaks about the clout of its members.

Shah shares his bench with Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan and Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot. This front row block is next to bench allocated to AIADMK and TMC leaders, which were earlier occupied by Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, and BSP's Mayawati till the last session.

In the new sitting arrangement now the JD-U members have been moved near treasury benches.

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