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   In New Delhi, a new parliament is being sworn... (October 7, 1991)

In New Delhi, a new parliament is being sworn in. there is a new prime minister, a chastened Congress, hopefully a conciliatory BJP, a responsible and reponsive opposition.

A lot depends on this parliament. More than at any other time in our history, this is the parliament that can make or break the country. The national's fatem its present and future, lies in its hands.

The people have chosen wisely: there are good men in this House, able and efficient, and a number of them well-intentioned. Not all of them are good, there are those that we could well have done without. And there ae those who should have been in and are not. But on the whole it has been a good ballot. The electorate has done its job, now it is for the lected to do theirs.

It is being said that it is a hung parliament. This is not quite true. The Janata Dal government, with or without the other National Frount components, was a hung parliament. But not a parliament in which the ruling party almost has a majority. A good and honest government can always's grater a handful of extra votes.

And the spirit of compromise is in the air, already there is evidence of it. The BJP has announced its intentions to deop its anti-Congress postures and a beginning has been made with the accord on the candidate for the speaker's post. There is an all-around awareness of the dire position that previous parliaments, or its members, have led the country into. And as yet unnounced but underflying desire among the present members to repair the actions of the predecessors. And, in this aspect, it does not matter if most of the memebrs of the old parliaments have returned to the new parliament. Times change and people change and enven the most irresponsible among us suddenly start reevaluting ourselves.

The best thing is that the new parliament is being led by a decent and honest man, a simple and decent human being aware of his shortcomings and functioning withing the constraints of his limitations. Not that the prime ministers who preceeded him had no limitations, they only managed to conceal them (temporarily) by flaunting their office, or their family background, or their role in the independence movement. If the present prime minister can be compated with any of those who came before him, it would be with Lal Bahadur Shashtri. Like Shashtri he may last only for a brief span, but within that span he can restore the self-respect of the country and of the democratic institutions in the country. For instance, the parliament: may it once again become a place of high debate and constructive legislation, and not of slogan-shouting and walkouts.

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