ABSTRACT

This chapter intends to disaggregate the power’ or ‘power-base’ of Bengali village leaders. In the 1960s groupism’—nowadays the English term is used—or daladali or the affairs of the dals, was rampant in both Udaynala and Gopinathpur. Daladali was a well-known phenomenon with a long history, and villagers commonly perceived village politics as having centred on dais led by powerful or influential individuals. These dais and the subsequent daladali were important enough to form the core of village history. The story of the neighbouring village of Udaynala is entirely different. It starts with two or three large and looming rich landowners, passes over to their heirs, a group of youngsters with new ideas, and ends in repression in the 1970s. It is a story of many more alliances, of more ambitions and more initiatives, and more abrupt change. The chapter investigates the political importance of money lending.