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Hitler and Frankenstein head for the polls

Bizarre candidates' names in state election

Anirban Roy, Kolkata

February 22, 2013

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While Saturday’s state elections in Meghalaya are a serious political business, the names of some of the candidates -- which include Hitler, Kennedy, Alexander and Frankenstein -- have been giving local voters occasion to smile.

As well as being largely composed of tribal people, Meghalaya is one of only three predominantly Christian states in India. Because of that, there is a preference to give children Western or Christian names, although some of those names are perhaps not as well researched as they might be.

As a result, the roll call of 345 competing candidates features Congress legislator Frankenstein W Momin, who has won three elections in the past, along with relative newcomer Adolf Lu Hitler R Marak.

Meghalaya people also favor expressive words to baptize their children. Hence, Boldness Nongrum, Hopingstone Lyngdoh, Hopeful Bamon, Adviser Pariong, Righteous N Sangma and Predecessor Rumnong all appear on the candidates’ list.

Making up the numbers are Romeo Phira Rani, Moonlight Pariat, Hilarious Dkhar, Process T Sawkmie, and Bomber Sing Hynniewta.

Political heavyweights such as the Congress Party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) take part, along with at least four parties who represent local interests. But campaigning generally cuts across party lines and looks for support from entire clans, who tend to vote en bloc.

"If the clan and the native villagers are won over, winning an election is not difficult," one tribal voter told “For example, the entire Malniang clan is now campaigning day and night to ensure a victory for Lambor Malniang,  a member of their clan.”

Religion is another vote-winning factor. Laitumkhrah constituency, for example, is the seat of Shillong archdiocese and location of one of the state's best hospitals, run by a Catholic order. As a result, according to one local voter,  “Catholic candidates always win in Laitumkhrah because of the Church’s good work.” 

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