What’s in a name? Hitler, Frankenstein, Anvil and others running in Indian state election

VANCOUVER DESI

Meghalaya tribes

The tribal people of Meghalaya, India are known for having colourful names. Exhibit A is the long list of interestingly-named candidates running in the upcoming state election. Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images

SHILLONG — The upcoming provincial election in British Columbia promises to be an interesting one for primarily dramatic reasons: Will the NDP overtake the Liberals? Will there be a legitimate four- or five-candidate race in Abbotsford South?

But whatever happens, one thing is for certain: there is absolutely no way the names of the candidates involved in the B.C. vote can in any way compare with the overflowing bounty of wildly-named candidates running in the Meghalaya state election in India, set for this Saturday, Feb. 23.

B.C. has a Sultan on the slate? Meghalaya has a Hitler. B.C. offers a Falcon? Meghalaya counters with a Frankenstein.

The often intriguing names of candidates have always been the high point in any election in the northeastern Indian state. This time is no different.

With a population of nearly three million, Meghalaya is predominantly Christian with Garo, Khasi and Jaintia being the main languages spoken. English is considered the common tongue.

Most tribal people in Meghalaya prefer names of famous people although they know very little about their background.

“Parents often name their children after great leaders, but sometimes due to ignorance they get fascinated by those personalities,” S.N. Lamare, a professor of history at the North Eastern Hill University here, told IANS.

Stocky Garo tribal leader and Congress party candidate Adolf Lu Hitler R Marak is poised for a close fight in the Bajengdoba constituency against soft-spoken John Manner Marak of the National People’s Party.

“I am no dictator; neither am I the namesake of Adolf Hitler,” said Marak, explaining that his name was incomplete without his surname: Rangsa Marak. “No one has ever questioned me about my name.”

“I have never asked my father why he chose this name for me.”

Meanwhile, Frankenstein Momin, a former education minister, will vie for the Manik Sarkar-led Congress in the Mendipathar constituency.

Winnerson D. Sangma, an Independent candidate, is working overtime in the Salmanpara constituency against his two opponents: Rightious Sangma and Boston Marak.

So is Romeo Rani, also busy trying to romance the electorate in the Shillong East constituency, while Zenith Sangma and Moonlight Pariat hope to radiate goodwill in the Jowai and Rangsakona constituencies, respectively.

Then there is Field Marshal Mawphaniang in Umsning, while Founder Strong Cajee and his younger brother Sounder Strong Cajee are fighting against their rivals in Mawlai and Shillong North.

Adamkid, Billykid, Kennedy, Adviser, Livingstone, Hopingstone, Hopeful, Predecessor, Process and Julius are also among the 345 candidates vying to earn a seat in Meghalaya’s 60-member legislature.

And the list goes on.

Bombersingh from the the Hill States People’s Democratic Party and Hilarious, an Independent, are fighting hard, too, to defeat their rivals.

So are candidates Founder, Boldness, Comingone, Amos and Methodius.

Also in the running are Highlander, Anvil, Fairly Bert and Finelynes.

Hopingstone Lyngdoh, who has never given up on his dream for a separate Khasi-Jaintia state to be carved out of Meghalaya, has found kindred souls Ardent and Witting in the Nongkrem and Mawthengkut constituencies to share his hope.

And one cannot simply ignore journalist Stafing Jove Langpen Pdahkasiej, an independent – perhaps with the longest name among the contestants.

“Indians are more sensible. We don’t believe a name represents a person’s true character. A person with the name Hitler can be a good person,” Apurba K. Baruah, a political scientist at the North Eastern Hill University, said.

“Similarly, a person who may have the name of a god can be a bad person. The name has got nothing to do with it.” Baruah said.

— With a file from IANS

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