'Hitler' and 'Bombersingh' among rivals in Indian state poll

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 2:35am


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Politicians named after Adolf Hitler and Frankenstein are among 345 candidates competing in elections this week in the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya, which has a history of bizarre naming conventions.

Keeping them company when the hilly state goes to the polls on Saturday are others called Bombersingh, Boldness Billykid and Predecessor.

Hopingstone Lyngdoh, Hilarious Pochen and Hopeful Bamon will also try their luck at nabbing one of the 60 seats up for grabs in the state legislative assembly.

Often they don't know the background of the names. They get attracted to these names for their quest of modernity

The unusual names chosen in Meghalaya are among the most striking legacies of colonial rule, when many Britons frequented state capital Shillong, preferring its temperate climate to the searing heat of the rest of India.

Shillong became known as the "Scotland of the East" and a steady stream of foreign missionaries and soldiers saw Christianity flourish and the English language trickle in.

Historians say the once-close ties with England have seen many people name their children using random English words or famous names from the past, often with no knowledge of what they might mean.

"Often they don't know the background of the names. They get attracted to these names for their quest of modernity," said Sanjeeb Kakoty, a history professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong.

The stocky, balding politician Adolf Lu Hitler-Marak said his parents did not know the background to his controversial name and insisted that apart from a moustache, he had nothing in common with the Nazi dictator.

A trader with the imaginative name of Class One said: "Parents may christen their children funny names, but as long as the candidates perform their duties, we have no problem."