Do cities matter? What BJP, INC and CPI(M) manifestos say on urban issues

From devolution of powers to local bodies, to the formation of National Urban Mobility Mission, to the creation of a separate Ministry for Water; what all are the promises made by political parties regarding urban issues in their manifestos ?

Manifestos of the various parties do talk about different plans to improve cities. Here is a quick summary of the key points related to urban issues.

The Indian National Congress(INC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] in their manifestos have promised proper implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment and thereby the devolution of powers to local elected bodies. The INC plans on introducing mayoral reforms where the Mayor will be empowered and have a term of five years. Both parties plan on developing an Urban Policy.

The CPI(M) plans to move away from the concept of ‘Smart cities’ to liveable cities.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to set up five regional Centres of Excellence on Urban Issues which will assist states and local bodies in urban governance. All three parties have committed to developing new towns/medium cities/ new urban centres.

The INC and CPI(M) have focused on the needs of the urban poor in their manifestos. Both parties plan to ensure a zero-eviction policy and develop a slum upgradation programme that will provide basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation etc to residents. Both parties aim at providing night shelters for the homeless. The CPI(M) promises to uphold the rights of street vendors by providing them protection and by constituting a town vending committee.

Pic: Laasya Shekhar

All three parties look to improving public transportation. They aim to provide strong metro services in 50 cities. BJP has plans for an Urban Mobility Mission that provides technology-based mobility solutions and promotes single mobility cards across various transport modes. INC too plans to implement an Urban Transport Policy. They state that public transportation and public spaces will be made safe for women, children and other marginalised sections. The focus for CPI(M) is in providing equitable and affordable public transport systems.

Both the BJP and the INC plan on developing a Ministry of Water, which will bring all water related departments and works under it. The INC promises universal access to potable drinking water, whereas the BJP aims to provide piped water connection to all households by 2024, The CPIM aims to work against privatization of water resources. The INC plans on developing a comprehensive system for treatment and disposal of sewage.

Pic credit: Wikipedia

All three parties promise actions on tackling air pollution. The INC proposes to strengthen the National Clean Air programme, whereas the BJP aims to convert the programme into a mission that will focus on the 102 most polluted cities in the country. The INC plans to develop an Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and regulations.  The CPIM aims to make the environment clearances at the state and national level transparent.

With regards to entrepreneurship and startups, the INC plans on setting up an Entrepreneurship support agency to provide all round support (funding, incubation, counseling, access to technology ) to entrepreneurs including starts up. They party plans on removing the Angel Tax which is applicable to Start ups. The BJP aims to provide collateral free credit upto 50 lakhs for entrepreneurs; set up ‘Entrepreneurship North East’ scheme ; and encourage start ups through creation of a ‘Seed Start up’ fund of upto 20,000 crores.

Below is a detailed comparison on how all the parties stand on Urban issues. The points have been taken as if from the manifestos.

For complete manifestos, click here:

Urbanization and Urban Policy 


  • Set up five regional centres of excellence on Urban issues. These centres will provide support to states and local bodies on issues of urban governance and growth.
  • Support a large scale internship for the youth in Urban Local bodies.
  • Will ensure that the aspirational middle class has access to education, employment and suitable urban infrastructure for a better quality of life.


  • Formulate a comprehensive policy on Urbanisation after wide consultation. Will address the issues concerning towns and cities including city governance, livelihoods,housing, habitat, pollution, climate change, urban transport and disaster management.
  • Support State Governments to build new towns and cities as well as satellite towns.
  • Introduce a new model of governance for towns and cities through a directly elected mayor with a fixed term of 5 years, an elected Council and a separate administrative structure for each urban body. The administration will be accountable to the Mayor and the Council and there will be a provision to recruit technical experts and build capacity as well as multi-disciplinary teams to do urban planning and implement municipal works.
  • Enforce the 74th Amendment to the Constitution and ensure the devolution of powers, functions and funds to the Municipalities and Corporations, making them financially independent.
  • Right to Housing for the urban poor and protection from arbitrary eviction. We will build night shelters for the homeless so that no one will sleep in the open.
  • Launch a Slum Upgradation and Transformation Scheme to ensure basic services such as drinking water, electricity and sanitation to slum dwellers. Slums will be transformed by replacing huts and kuchha dwellings with proper houses, roads and other public facilities.


  • Framing a New Urban Policy that replaces the concept of ‘Smart Cities’ with ‘Livable Cities’ guided by the philosophy of inclusion and sustainability; clear benchmarks and standards for all the urban poor and worker communities in their cities and protection of the existing peoples’ settlements and livelihoods. The whole mission would be channelled through local elected governments following public consultations and discussion.
  • Promoting planned urbanisation; increasing public investment in public utilities and facilities in the cities to accommodate the growing migration by the working people; focusing on developing middle-tier cities, so that more jobs can be attracted to these medium cities.
  • Running adequately provisioned night shelters, homes and community kitchens for the most vulnerable and destitute.
  • Implementation of 74th Constitutional Amendment Act and ensure the devolution of powers and finances to urban local bodies in a time bound manner; ensure mandatory peoples’ participation for all urban planning and budgeting process.
  • Expanding public provisioning of housing with full civic amenities; curbing unbridled real estate development catering to the affluent classes.
  • Halting demolition of slums with a zero eviction policy; ensuring in situ development of slums with facilities; ensuring that slum areas are not transferred to real estate developers; providing basic services to people living in slums.
  • Ensuring protection for street vendors and recognising their positive contribution; registration of street vendors and constitution of Town Vending Committees.

Mobility and Public Transportation 

  • Launch a National Urban Mobility Mission to provide technology based urban mobility solutions to all urban local bodies and increase the use of public transportation, enhance walkability and cycle use. Under this mission, we will incentivize cities to integrate the public transportation systems such as metro, local trains and local buses with the private service providers in the sector such as, private bus operator, private taxi operator, the auto-rickshaw, e-rickshaw services, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure for a seamless and smooth last mile connectivity. We will also promote a common mobility card/ ticketing across different modes of transport.
  • In the next five years, ensure that 50 cities are covered with a strong metro network.


  • Formulate and implement a policy on urban transport with emphasis on metro rail, suburban rail, electric vehicles, public bus transport, hired vehicles and shared vehicles. We will encourage non-motorised transport, namely, walking and cycling.
  • Public spaces, public transport, public premises and other public facilities in towns and cities will be made safe for women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants and marginalised sections of society.


  •  Ensuring modern, accessible, equitable and affordable public transport and Mass Transit Systems; planning roads and transport with greater rights for pedestrians, cyclists and other slow moving vehicles; checking air pollution and road congestion through these measures.

Management of Water Resources 


  • Form a new Ministry of Water unifying the water management functions to approach the issue of water management holistically and ensure better coordination of efforts. The Ministry will expeditedly take forward the ambitious programme, conceptualized by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for linking rivers from different parts of the country and ensure a solution to the problems of drinking water and irrigation.
  • Launch ‘Jal Jivan Mission’ under which we will introduce a special programme, ‘Nal se Jal’ to ensure piped water for every household by 2024.


  • Create a Ministry of Water to bring all water-related activities and departments under one authority.
  • Universal access to potable drinking water. The National Drinking Water Mission will be reviewed and strengthened. Budget allocations will be substantially increased.
  • Pay special attention to access to water and democratic sharing of water. We will address these issues by focusing on storage in dams and water bodies, replenishing ground water and creating a large participatory programme of water management involving the State Governments, civil society organisations, farmers, other users, Panchayats and Gram Sabhas.
  • Implement a comprehensive plan for the treatment and safe disposal of sewage.


  • National Water Policy to be formulated treating water as a scarce public good, in such a manner as to increase water re-charge and water conservation while simultaneously enhancing water availability for domestic use, irrigation and industry through effective regulation and demand management; equitable provision of potable drinking water to all habitations to be accorded priority.
  •  Recognizing people’s right to water and housing; and ensuring  basic services such as drinking water, sanitation, power, street lights, health facilities to the Urban poor.
  • No privatization of water resources and recognising the right to water.



  • Convert the National Clean Air Plan into a Mission and will focus on 102 most polluted cities in the country. Through concerted action, we will reduce the level of pollution in each of the mission cities by at least 35% over the next five years.


  • Constitute, by law, an independent,empowered and transparent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and regulations. The EPA will replace all other bodies that currently exercise jurisdiction and powers.
  • Significantly strengthen the National Clean Air Programme in order to urgently tackle the problem of pollution. All major sources of emission will be targeted, mitigated and reduced to acceptable levels. Sectoral emission standards will be set.
  • Implement a solid waste management plan in every habitation, village, town and city employing modern technology and machinery. Those engaged in waste management and disposal will be assured appropriate equipment, dignity and safe working conditions.
  • Confer legal and financial powers upon Panchayats and Municipalities to enable them to partner with State Governments in environment protection and management and to convert the total effort into a grassroots movement involving youth, women, communities and NGOs.


  • Strengthening States to tackle natural and climate-related disasters, and to adopt and implement climate resilient development strategies addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.
  • Taking steps to reduce emission of greenhouse gases through effective regulation, energy efficiency in all sectors of production and consumption; promotion of renewable energy such as solar and wind; reducing energy inequality and promoting energy access for economically weaker sections.
  • Making the system and processes of Environmental Clearances at State and Central level effective, time-bound, transparent, accountable and free of conflict of interests.

Entrepreneurship and Startup


  • Launch a new scheme to provide collateral-free credit up to 50 Lakhs for entrepreneurs. Guarantee 50% of the loan amount for female entrepreneurs and 25% of the loan amount for male entrepreneurs.
  • Set-up new ‘Entrepreneurial North East’ scheme to provide financial assistance to small and medium industries and for employment generation in the Northeastern states.
  • Continue to promote and encourage startups through creation of a ‘ Seed Start up’ fund of upto 20,000 crores.


  • Create an Enterprise Support Agency to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups, with all-round business support including counselling, incubation, access to technology, funding, domestic and export markets, and the creation of new products,services and intellectual property.
  • Encourage and incentivize starting of new businesses. The Angel Tax imposed on Start-Ups will be withdrawn completely.
  • Will promote ‘Mass Entrepreneurship’ and support entrepreneurs to replicate tried and tested models of businesses in order to meet the growing demand for such goods and services.

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