The first day of the 16th Lok Sabha became sombre as its members paid tributes to Union rural development minister Gopinath Munde, who was killed in an accident. As expected, the House dispersed after electing Kamal Nath as the pro-tem Speaker. The significance of the new House could not have been lost on anyone who has been an observer of the national political scene. As many as 315 members—that is, about two-thirds of the total members—are new. It is, perhaps, the first time, barring the first House, that so many new members have been elected. The credit should go to the BJP, which fielded more new candidates than any other party, except the Aam Aadmi Party.
That there are so many new members in the House is also a reflection of the success of the democratic system which shows readiness to experiment with new candidates. It is now the turn of those leading the executive and the legislature to make good use of the new talent. Many of them may be new to Parliament but they have proved their mettle in various fields like public service, law and company affairs before contesting for the Lok Sabha. Since many of them are young, energetic and full of enthusiasm, leaders of political parties should recognise their abilities and make good use of them.
Those who have an idea of how Parliament functions know only too well that new members do not get opportunities to speak in the House. Time is allotted on the basis of the party strength and those who are leaders monopolise the time to their advantage. All political parties should take a decision to involve the new members in the debates. The founding fathers of the Constitution had visualised Parliament as India’s pre-eminent debating club but, over the decades, there had been a drastic fall in the standards of debate in the House. Parliament often gets noticed, not for the quality of the debate it witnesses but for the tantrums the members throw. It is time the high standards of the debate in Parliament are restored.