This article explores the performances of a particular category of young men often derogatively referred to as “chamchas” (sycophants) who are using the art of making do (jugaad) by exploiting and bluffing links with powerful political networks and political parties, as well as friendships with strongmen and their criminal crews. Crucially, the comparative ethnography across India (western Uttar Pradesh) and Bangladesh (Sylhet) introduces readers to the “contact zone” where legality, semi-legality, and organized criminal systems meet. In so doing, the article unravels the working of the democratically elected “Mafia Raj.”

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