Meghalaya: Hitler, Mafia, Bomber contesting, seeking votes

Shillong, Feb 22 : Hitler, Mafia, Bomber, Kennedy and Alexander are among 346 candidates seeking votes in Meghalaya. Not to be left behind, some voters in the state also have peculiar names like Thailand, New York and Submarine.

Among the other contestants for the February 23 polls who have equally colourful names are Hilarius, Predecessor, Boldness, Hamlet and Nesting. Historians in the state say the different names are a result of a colonial hangover. Dr Amanda Passah, a historian at the North Eastern Hills University, said, "It is unfair to laugh at them (names) since they are not to be blamed for having such names."

"It is the result of fascination of anything western or European of their parents," he said. He said it was a 'colonial hangover' to give western names sometimes without actually knowing their meaning or connotation and tribals in the pre-colonial period in Meghalaya did not have much choice of names for their offsprings. Predominantly a Christian state, Meghalaya's date with colonisation by the British began in the 19th century. When the indigenous tribes first converted to Christianity, they named their children after missionaries.

Subsequent generations started favouring words and names they were familiar with, but did not have a good understanding of. "Among the tribals here especially those hailing from rural areas, there is a fascination for all things foreign, especially western, which is reflected in the names of their children," Dr Passah said. "They may have heard of names and personalities and it sounded nice to them," she said and explained that it did not mean that they are related to Hitler or Frankenstein. The Chief Electoral Officer, P Naik, said that not only politicians, but voters also have peculiar names. "There is a New York and a Thailand besides other names like Latrine or a Submarine," a village chief of Umniuh village near the Indo-Bangladesh border said, referring to the electoral roll of his village. In Adolf Lu Hitler Marak and in Frankenstein's case, people have voted them to the Assembly and they even became cabinet ministers in governments in the past. "My parents liked the name and hence baptized me Frankeinstein," Frankeinstein said. Hitler, on the other hand, said he was happy with the name given to him.