Crosscurrents: State-Level Politicians’ Conflicting Views of Urban India
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Senior politicians at the state-level in India’s federal system—Chief Ministers and their close associates—have a potent impact on urban centres within their states. These leaders have too much power to be marginalised or ignored, as they often are in analyses of urban themes and of development more generally. This chapter seeks to provide a context for discussions of policy processes by explaining how senior politicians tend (with inevitable variations) to perceive and address cities within their states. They are pulled in different directions by competing perceptions of cities and competing political imperatives. They see cities as sources of revenues, economic growth, and illicit “fund raising”. But cities are also potential sites of disorder, and leaders who favour cities risk alienating rural voters who decide election outcomes. So politicians are caught in crosscurrents. What, therefore, emerges is not a tidy picture, but confused and conflicted sets of perspectives. This adds up to a far less well-ordered basis for policy-making than technocrats prefer, but it is a reality that one must understand.
KeywordsCorruption Political leaders Revenue Urban Urbanisation
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