ABSTRACT

In a village people spend much time gossiping. Gossip—adda—is rural Bengal’s favourite pastime. Gossip is particularly important for village leaders because leadership naturally means being in the forefront, exposed to village gossip. From Udaynala it will be observed that not only did gossip play an important role in village politics, it could directly affect a village leader’s effectiveness. Gossip was integral to village politics and formed its agenda and the reputation and thus effectiveness of individual leaders. This chapter examines how a string of bichars and meetings held in Udaynala in 1992–93, on widely different issues, became connected to one another and to other incidents and developments in people’s perception. The whole history between Manikbhai’s first and second bichar concerned disputes and quarrels that ended up being perceived as part of a power struggle between the two major village leaders and their groups over influence in the village.