Book review: Harry Kitchen, Melville McMillan and Anwar Shah, Local Public Finance and Economics: An International Perspective

AuthorV. N. Alok
Published date01 September 2020
Date01 September 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 435
of any specific party, particularly the small organisational parties. He has paid
special attention to understand fiscal constraints for Dalit parties in Tamil Nadu.
He primarily talks about the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) party in
Tamil Nadu and its compulsive relation with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra
Kazhagam (AIADMD) and other Dravidian parties for finance. The money con-
straints for small parties like VCK in Tamil Nadu went on to an extent wherein
September 2007, VCK leadership passed the Velachery Resolution, which dis-
solved the party structure and solicited fresh applications from previous office
bearers as well as new party members. The membership drive was designated, in
part, to attract influential non-Dalits to join the party by offering them plum posts.
This, of course, riled many longitudinal VCK cadres. If a party is small and does
not have a sound financial backup, it has to liquidate its ideology to be in alliance
with a well-established party.
Lisa Bjorkman and Jeffrey Witsoe further make an interesting observation
by making a distinction between ‘gift giving rather than Vote-buying’. Simon
Chauchard gives a very detailed analysis of costs in Indian elections. He provides
an ethnographic account of every minute expenditure that is incurred by the politi-
cal parties during election campaigns. The expenses range from vehicles for trans-
portation, cost related to erection of stages, podium, flowers and garlands, posters,
pamphlets, beverages such as tea, water, cold drinks and juice, TV screen, power
consumption, rent for venue, guard and security charges, to expenditure on chairs
for the audience, arches and barricades, hiring of loudspeaker, and so on. Using
statistical analysis and survey methods, Jennifer Bussell attempts to uncover the
nexus between those who take charge of the office and those who control the
office from the backdoor.
This book provides a detailed account of how money operates during elections
in India. It gives a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
Nitesh Rai
Researcher, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi
Harry Kitchen, Melville McMillan and Anwar Shah, Local Public Finance
and Economics: An International Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
521 pp., `8,977.50.
DOI: 10.1177/0019556120958580
Over the past four decades, a noticeable trend is evident the world over towards
the increasing devolution of political, fiscal and administrative powers to local
governments, but literature on local governance and finance is largely country
specific, and comparative perspectives are rarely presented. Hence, scholars and
policymakers know little about the contemporary trends and common issues
related to fiscal and political devolution. Moreover, while textbook on urban
public finance was written in early 1990s, a comprehensive book on local public
finance, covering both rural and urban governance, has been missing. In this

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