Anomalies thrive in the Indian democracy. One of the more noticeable ones is the dominance that party bosses exert over elected representatives of the people. What such dominance disregards is that, in a democracy, only those elected by the people can aspire to power and leadership. The most glaring instance of this tendency is, of course, to be found in the Communist Party of India (Marxist), where the party apparatchiki, with no popular base whatsoever, dictate policy to chief ministers with a popular mandate. In the CPI(M), the party hierarchy prevails over the popular verdict. A similar situation is noticeable in the vexed relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The voice and the decisions of the latter are always seen to be superior to and binding on the BJP. Thus the difficulty in accepting what appears to be a foregone conclusion: the emergence of Narendra Modi as a national leader and as the obvious choice for the BJPís prime ministerial candidate. However Mr Modiís critics may be loathe to admit it, there can be little doubt that Mr Modi has a solid base of support in Gujarat and also among the supporters of the BJP across the country. Yet within the BJP leadership, there is a reluctance to accept Mr Modi as the obvious popular choice.
In Indian politics, the party oligarchy runs the party machinery and plays the kingmaker. This is contrary to all democratic principles. The first leader to challenge this state of affairs was Indira Gandhi when she broke with the syndicate which ran the Congress and proved that she was the popular leader. At the present moment, there is a greater convergence in the Congress between popularity and power. Sonia Gandhi is by far the most popular Congress leader; she is also the most powerful. In other political parties, this convergence does not exist. If the BJP successfully cuts its umbilical chord with the RSS, it would move towards the convergence. The problem lies in the way politics is structured in India. In spite of India being a thriving democracy, politics is ruled by parties. Political parties, and not the people, decide who is going to be the leader and so on. There is also an insufficient awareness ó even among the educated ó of this anomaly in the Indian democracy which undermines that famous description of democracy by an American president.