Hitler, Hilarious and Hopeful in Meghalaya poll line-up
By Raymond Kharmujai, Shillong, Feb 19 : Hitler is seeking re-election in Meghalaya and so is Frankenstein. Hopeful and Hilarious are in the running too along with Predecessor and Process. As campaigning hots up ahead of the Feb 23 polls, the whacky line-up of names just adds to the colour of Meghalaya's electionscape.
The interesting, often intriguing, names of candidates have always been the high point in any election in the northeastern 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 and English used as the link language. 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," Marak told IANS.
"I have never asked my father why he chose this name for me," said Marak, known more popularly as Hitler.
Voters, too, are oblivious of the fact that Hitler's name has a derogatory connotation. For them, Hitler is a politician who had earlier been a minister - there's little recall of the Nazi dictator.
And Frankenstein Momin, a former education minister, evokes no vision of a monster as he contests for the Manik Sarkar-led Congress from 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 contesting the polls for the 60-member legislature.
Bombersingh from the the Hill States People's Democratic Party and Hilarious, an Independent, are fighting hard too to defeat their rivals.
But for candidates like Founder, Boldness, Comingone, Amos and Methodius, this election is going to be crucial - the Congress leaders are focussing on stability and good governance as they seek another term in office.
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 Ardent and Witting in the Nongkrem and Mawthengkut constituencies to fulfil his dream for separate state.
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, told IANS.
"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.
(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at email@example.com)