India's problems have not been solved by the challenge to the doughty socialist, Chandra Shekhar, to form a minority government. Nor have they been ameliorated, or even postponed. Mr. Shekhar, who has never held government office, will realize a lifelong ambition to be prime minister.
That's nice. He controls one-tenth of the members of the lowehouse of parliament and will be kept in power and restrained by the Congress Party and its leader, Rajiv Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi, humiliated and dispatched from power in the election last November, will be the power behind the scene as long as he controls two-fifths of the members of parliament, and he will decide when an election is called and on what issue.
Meanwhile, the secular and Hindu leftist, Mr. Shekhar, must deal with virulent Hindu nationalism. It is picking fights with India's minority of 100 million Moslems, with the largely Islamic separatists in Kashmir, with the Sikh separatists in Punjab and with a stricken economy made worse by the oil shock. To deal with half these problems, Mr. Shekhar's old socialism is wrong, and to deal with the other half, his new opportunism is wrong.