Is the tax revenue-dependent state - national or sub-national - more responsive to the needs and concerns of its tax-paying citizens than the one relying mostly on unearned income? Set within this larger quest for the linkage between fiscal process and political process at the sub-national level, this paper takes a prior look at the political and legislative history of the development of the Panchayat Raj system in the State of West Bengal, how the decentralized 'local' state has evolved from a 'development' panchayat to a 'party' panchayat to its recent incarnation as a 'planning' and 'resource mobilizing' panchayat. Based upon a thematic analysis of relevant Acts and documents, Legislative assembly debates and proceedings, and interviews with academics, administrators and politicians, we summarize our findings regarding the constellation of forces that has made the decentralization experiment happen in the State, the sweep of legislative measures, the concerns and conflicts of major political parties evinced through Assembly debates, the nature of party-PRI relationship and the relationship between 'local power' and State-level politics. This politico-legislative narrative sets the contours of our future research on resource mobilizing and micro-planning potentials and practices of Panchayati Raj Institutions and their redistributive effects.
Delegation to Devolution: West Bengal. MIDS Working paper no. 185, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India. 52 pp.