Municipal Councillors (MCs) are the ‘familiar face of the state’ in Dehradun, India: the first port of call for citizens seeking to claim entitlements from the state. The way MCs respond to the requests of their constituents is a major factor in the uneven distribution of government welfare and services. This article seeks to contribute to understandings of citizen entitlements by drawing attention to the role of affect and emotion in shaping the interactions between MCs and voters. I examine the ways citizens consciously or unconsciously engender emotions and affective responses, and the effect these have in mobilizing MCs. Attention to the, at times, involuntary nature of these responses suggests a need to go beyond the instrumental and calculating motivations of municipal councillors, to consider the way they are compelled and animated to meet the demands of some citizens, but not of others. The capacity to affect, and the ways one is affected, are tied to the social identities and self‐making projects of both the MC and the voter, resulting in an uneven (mal)distribution of state resources. A focus on affective configurations in urban governance thereby reveals heretofore overlooked determinants of unequal access to urban resources and services.
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