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Daily-current-affairs / 06 May 2024

India's Urban Future: A Critical Analysis of Election Manifestos : Daily News Analysis



Election manifestos play a pivotal role in informing voters about the plans and policies of political parties. In the context of India's 2024 elections, the manifestos of the two major national parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC), have been scrutinized, particularly focusing on their urban promises.

However, assurances in election manifestos are not legally enforceable in India, and the courts have left this to the people to decide.

This examination aims to provide insight into the future of cities under the governance of either party. Both manifestos present ambitious goals for urban development, but they also leave certain crucial issues unaddressed, particularly regarding the financial and functional domains of urban local bodies (ULBs) and pending urban reforms.

Manifesto Analysis: Indian National Congress (INC)

     Urban Employment Programme and Infrastructure Renewal

The INC's manifesto, titled 'Nyay Patra' (NP), emphasizes the need for an urban employment program aimed at providing work opportunities for the urban poor through the reconstruction and renewal of urban infrastructure. This initiative mirrors the successful urban employment scheme launched in Rajasthan in 2022, which provided 100 days of work annually for the urban poor. While commendable, the implementation challenges and funding mechanisms for such a program remain areas of concern.

     Regulation of Urban Expansion

The NP proposes regulating the expansion of existing cities and supporting the construction of twin cities near existing ones, with a no-construction zone separating them. While the intention to curb unchecked urban sprawl is commendable, the feasibility and effectiveness of this approach raise questions, especially concerning enforcement and regional disparities in urbanization rates.

     Urban Governance Reforms

The manifesto advocates for direct elections of mayors/chairpersons for fixed five-year terms, along with empowered councils possessing executive, financial, and administrative powers. While empowering local governments is essential for effective urban governance, the logistical and constitutional challenges of implementing such reforms at the national level remain unclear.

     Infrastructure and Connectivity

Enhancing transport facilities and connectivity between rural and urban areas is a key focus of the NP. The manifesto promises a comprehensive plan for safe multi-modal urban public transport and highlights the need to address issues such as stray dog populations in cities. However, translating these promises into tangible improvements requires robust implementation strategies and financial commitments.

     Implementation of Constitutional Amendments

The NP pledges to advocate for the full implementation of the 74th Amendment to the Constitution, which empowers local governments. However, given the historical reluctance of states to comply with constitutional mandates, ensuring effective implementation remains a significant challenge.

Manifesto Analysis: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

     Promotion of Affordable Housing

The BJP's manifesto, 'Sankalp Patra' (SP), prioritizes the promotion of affordable housing by strengthening regulatory frameworks such as the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA). While this initiative addresses a critical need, comprehensive reforms in land utilization and rent control are also essential for sustainable urban housing solutions.

     Creation of Satellite Townships and Infrastructure Development

The SP advocates for the creation of new satellite townships near major cities, aiming to alleviate urban congestion and promote balanced regional development. However, similar to the INC's proposal, concerns regarding implementation challenges and regional disparities in development need to be addressed.

     Transportation and Sustainable Development

The manifesto emphasizes the creation of unified metropolitan transport systems and the adoption of AI technologies for traffic management. Additionally, initiatives such as expanding e-bus fleets and promoting water-secure cities reflect a commitment to sustainable urban development. Nevertheless, the scalability and funding mechanisms for these projects require careful consideration.

     Infrastructure Partnerships and Environmental Conservation

The SP underscores the importance of infrastructure partnerships between the central government, states, and cities to revitalize urban landscapes. Furthermore, the focus on developing green spaces, reviving water bodies, and eliminating open landfills aligns with environmental conservation goals. However, ensuring equitable distribution of resources and addressing socio-economic disparities in access to amenities remain critical challenges.

     Modernization of Urban Governance

The manifesto proposes modernizing urban laws, processes, and governance structures to promote efficient administration and planning. Initiatives such as creating digital urban land record systems and enhancing urban governance education reflect a commitment to institutional reforms. However, the efficacy of these measures depends on stakeholder engagement and capacity-building efforts at the local level.

Persisting Challenges and Unanswered Questions

     Implementation Mechanisms and Funding Sources: Despite the promising proposals outlined in the manifestos, there are lingering uncertainties regarding how these initiatives will be implemented and financed. Concrete details about the execution mechanisms and funding sources are notably absent, raising concerns about the feasibility of the proposed urban development programs.

     Coordination Among Stakeholders: Effective urban development requires seamless coordination among various stakeholders, including government agencies, private sector entities, and civil society organizations. However, the manifestos do not offer clear strategies for fostering such collaboration, leaving a critical gap in the implementation process.

     Concrete Proposals for Reform: The absence of concrete proposals to address long-standing urban reforms is a significant oversight in both manifestos. Vital issues such as urban governance, infrastructure development, and regulatory frameworks need comprehensive reform strategies to ensure sustainable urban growth and development.

     Strengthening Financial Autonomy of ULBs: The financial autonomy of urban local bodies (ULBs) is crucial for effective governance and service delivery in urban areas. However, the manifestos lack specific plans to strengthen the financial independence of ULBs, raising concerns about their ability to implement and sustain urban development initiatives autonomously.


Both the INC and BJP manifestos present ambitious agendas for urban development, encompassing infrastructure, governance, and sustainability. However, several key challenges and unanswered questions persist. As India continues to urbanize rapidly, it is imperative for political parties to prioritize comprehensive and inclusive urban policies that address the diverse needs and challenges of urban residents. Only through concerted efforts and sustained commitment can India's cities realize their full potential as engines of growth, innovation, and inclusive development.

Probable Questions for UPSC Mains Exam-

1.      "Evaluate the urban development proposals outlined in the manifestos of the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2024 elections. Discuss the challenges and unanswered questions regarding implementation mechanisms, funding sources, and coordination among stakeholders." ( 10 Marks,150 Words)

2.      "Examine the significance of addressing long-standing urban reforms and strengthening the financial autonomy of urban local bodies (ULBs) for sustainable urban development in India. Critically analyze the manifestos of the major political parties in the context of these challenges, highlighting the implications for future urban governance." ( 15 Marks,250 Words)

Source- The Hindu